Councillors will be meeting next week to consider the views of more than 200 Tamworth residents and businesses that were put forward as part of a consultation on the future of the Gungate site in the town centre.
The council asked for people’s opinions on some outline proposals on how a large area around the former Gungate Precinct could be unlocked for future development as part of major regeneration plans for Tamworth.
While the boundary of the site is likely to be flexible, it incorporates land to the north and south of Spinning School Lane; including the NCP car park, the Spinning School Lane car park, the Magistrates’ Court, Staffordshire County Council Social Services buildings and the former bingo hall.
A great deal of work has already taken place to explore potential uses that would be viable, sustainable and contribute to the overall success of Tamworth.
The outline proposals that were put to consultation set out the broad principles for regeneration, taking into account factors such as market demand, any restrictions to development on the site and the design principles within which we need to operate.
Feasibility studies have suggested that a mix of uses will be the most sustainable, which could include uses such as housing, retirement living, a leisure centre, workspace, medical services, evening leisure and multi-storey car parking.
Retail is not being suggested as a major component of this particular site due to its decline on the high street in recent years and a need to focus on the existing vacant retail space in the main high street areas.
During the month-long online consultation, a total of 209 people took part in the 16-question survey, resulting in 137 pages of comments, which are all available online at www.tamworth.gov.uk/closed-consultations.
These appear alongside the answers to some frequently asked questions which arose during the process.
Responses will now be considered by councillors on the Corporate Scrutiny Committee at their meeting on Wednesday, March 24 and the council’s Cabinet at their meeting on Thursday, April 8, 2021. Members of the public can watch the Corporate Scrutiny Committee meeting live; the agenda and link for viewing the meeting can both be found on the council meetings section of Tamworth Borough Council website here.
While the responses submitted varied greatly, there were some general themes which came out. For example, most respondents supported a mixture of uses on the site, but views differed on what those uses should be. There was strong support for residential use on the site and general support for an element of high quality bars and restaurants.
Many people pointed out the importance of the town’s heritage, sustainability and the opportunity to incorporate green energy solutions into any future development. Traffic was a concern, along with uncertainty around the need for a new leisure centre.
The next steps in the project will be to work towards an agreed set of criteria against which any future development proposals for the site should be assessed. These could include factors such as heritage, transport and sustainability – which were all reflected strongly in the public consultation.
The council will also need to further investigate the delivery options and possibilities for external grant funding and assess the market demand for the various agreed site uses.
Cllr Thomas Jay, Chair of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee, said: “I’d like to thank everyone who took part in the consultation; it’s great to see people taking an active interest in the future of the town centre. While the views submitted were widely varied, they will all be considered and taken into account where possible. For example, the general themes around heritage, transport and sustainability could be built into the agreed framework against which any specific future developments would have to be assessed.
“I’d encourage anyone who is interested in finding out more to tune in to the meeting on Wednesday from 6pm.
The Gungate regeneration project is separate to the Future High Streets Fund project announced recently to transform the heart of the town centre, including St Editha’s Square, the Tamworth Cooperative Society department store and the entrance to the Castle Grounds.