High Street Malvern's Aspirations are achievable and realistic.
To develop, improve and enhance:
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Elgar Square, a paper on the potential development of the area around Edith Walk
The intention of this proposal is to draw up an integrated plan to include:
the Foley Arms car park, the rear access to the Church Street premises, the west end of Edith Walk and the existing car park which serves Wilkinsons. Specific details of the plan might include:
- Make the area ‘shared space’.
- Proceed with the hotel plan
- Create a town square
- Move the existing parking on to the Foley Arms site.
- Include a Visitor and Spa Centre
- Install new public lavatories
- Enhance the Theatre of Small Convenience
- Create a ‘shopping mall’ effect by opening up the Church Street shops to the
- Open up Wilko and Waitrose to front on to the new square
The lack of cheap accommodation in the area following the closure of the fifty bed Youth Hostel in 2008 has reduced the number of young people visiting the town. In 2015, the problem was highlighted by the visit of a Czech Choir of thirty children who, in the event, had to stay in Kington and commute. Investigation by Mark Young of HSM identified two places which offered cheap accommodation and these will be recommended by the Tourist Office for future visitors.
Financial support for community groups is always a problem; this American inspired project allowing groups to promote their aims over a simple lunch and compete for the proceeds is scheduled to make an appearance in Malvern soon.
Malvern is well served with transport links – two stations – good links by rail to London and other places – frequent bus services and plenty of taxis. However, the transport plan used by the County Council fails to offer a ‘joined up’ service.
- There is no central hub from which all services radiate – although the stations would be able to offer this.
- There seems to be little attempt to address what people need rather than what is economically feasible to provide – no circular links between the three/fourshopping centres – Malvern Link, Townsend Way, Barnard’s Green and Great Malvern
- The services to outlying areas – the Hanleys, Welland and other villages - do not meet shopping, school and entertainment needs.
- There is no fare structure to link the services.
- There is no service for going round the Hills – on the lines of the old Hills Hopper which was very popular with visitors.
- Vehicles provided are not suitable for a small historical town; large single decker buses have been replaced by double decker vehicles – neither run to capacity and are polluting both in terms of noise and fumes.
- Parking must also be included if people are encouraged to use the hub and that means that on street parking for rail travellers needs to be managed – as well as enough parking in the right place for visitors.
- Malvern need to be at the forefront of the use of electric vehicles as the home of the ELECTRAA group; some research has recently been done into using nine seater electric buggies as part of the general transport strategy.
The difficulties with local transport have been rumbling for at least ten years – Bob Tilley of the Civic Society produced a paper in 2008 which led to discussions with the Worcestershire County Council but little changed.
- Town Centre Parking
- Visitors needs ample, free and convenient parking.
- In conjunction with HSM, Philip Duckworth has been looking at the options including a multi-story on the north Waitrose car park and/or more spaces in the Foley Arms car park Edith Walk area.
- PLACE Development
- With large residential developments planned for the next few years, HSM are concerned that every aspect of creating a living space is included; rows of house and narrow roads dominated by parked cars – as in Malvern Vale - are not appropriate as comfortable places for people of all ages to live. Open space, wide roads, plenty of trees and segregation of cars must be the principles on which the new housing areas are built.
- Civic Voice are promoting this concept against a background of large scale development across the country and HSM have passed details of current thinking to both the District and Town Councils to include in their respective plans.
- Malvern Science and Technology Centre
- Malvern Radar and Technology History Society (MRATHS) been working to protect the archives of the research into radar and other significant inventions; some of the archive material has been protected by official secrecy rules until recently but is
- now in the public domain.
- MRATHS are now trying to find a home for the archives and a permanent site for the development of a radar museum. It should ideally be near the centre of the town to meet the criteria of the town centre study.
- We have been doing some work to support this group as it will attract more visitors to the town.
- Until recently, Edith Walk has been a lane running parallel with Church Street and linking up with Back Lane itself running parallel with Graham Road.
- It provided a back entrance to the gardens of the houses in Church Street which were converted into shops in Victorian times and the entrance to the Foley Arms car park.
- The area to the east of the Foley Arms Hotel car park was used for a weekly market.
- The use of the area changed in the 1990s with the building of the Somerfields [now Wilko] shop and associated car park and, in 1999, the opening of the Waitrose store with the changes to the road pattern off Graham Road and the introduction of traffic lights.
- In 2010 the Foley Arms Hotel was sold to Wetherspoons but the car park was kept in private ownership.
- In 2014 Travelodge put forward plans for a forty bedroom hotel with adjacent apartments, four shops and some parking space. Although the proposal was considered carefully by the District Council, it did not proceed – partly because the plan was considered to be over development and partly because of the financial problems with the company.
- The District Council own a ‘ransom’ strip controlling the access to the site.
- The Current Situation
- The Foley Arms car park remains unused except for periodic hotel parking; this is a large multi acre site.
- The buildings to the south of the site – backing onto Church Street – are of poor quality and much of the space is taken up with a car park.
- There is a shortage of car parking in the centre of Malvern.
- The area has four footpaths linking it with Church Street as well as the Edith Walk road up to the Worcester Road.
- There are no significant buildings in the area except for the Theatre of Small Convenience.
- Malvern does not have an identifiable town centre although much of the retail activity is now centred along Church Walk leading to Waitrose.
- It has been recognised for some time that a plan is required to capitalise on the size and location of the area; the District Council has been involved on several occasions in devising a plan but these efforts have not been successful for a variety of reasons – not least the multiple ownership of the land and the difficulties of co-ordinating any development.
- The idea of a new hotel on the Foley Arms site is attractive because the town has lost about thirty bed nights with the recent closure of three small hotels and, in any case, the area is short of accommodation.