Date published: 1st July 2021

On June 16 and 17, Influence and Heta Architects hosted a successful pop-up exhibition on the Placemaking and Public Realm Masterplanning for the HSHAZ, North Walsham’s historic town centre, in a temporary space between the Shambles Café and St. Nicholas Church.

The local community – residents, local businesses and visitors alike – were all invited to attend and have their say around what they thought would work best for the town centre. Members from Influence, Heta, and BSP Consulting were on hand to answer questions and take visitors through the proposals. Ideas were presented via boards that encouraged feedback and comment, as well as through presentations on the masterplan concepts.

On display were initial proposals for the public realm masterplan, which identifies an overall vision for the town centre designed as a programme of projects that can be delivered as further funding is identified and secured, as well as initial concept ideas for how certain key areas identified in the masterplan could be re-imagined. Highway improvement options and potential story themes for a shared town identity were also shared.

Additional activities included talks by Influence’s Shona Hatton and Kathryn Dunk on how landscape architecture can connect communities, and an engaging tour of the town centre led by Rob Knee, one of North Walsham’s unofficial historians! The Shambles Café next door, run by Rebecca Lysaght, very generously donated afternoon tea to fortify visitors.

The exhibition saw a steady stream of engaged visitors, and local business owners turned up at the end of each day to discuss their needs and aspirations. An extra evening session was organised the following week to ensure as many people as possible were able to contribute.

The concept ideas for specific areas including the Market Cross, The Shambles, Black Swan Garden, and the Church Entrance and Market Place drew the most feedback, and although there was a wide variety of opinions, in general people favoured proposals that encouraged shared activity, easy pedestrian access, and wildlife and biodiversity.

Robert Young, Assistant Director for Sustainable Growth for NNDC, said of the event: “This was a brilliant collaboration of community, business and public sector organisations and a key milestone for one of the Council’s priority projects. The level of engagement and feedback bodes well for the successful implementation of this initiative and for its lasting legacy.”

Cllr Richard Kershaw, NNDC’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Growth, added: “The HAZ funding represents a once in a lifetime opportunity to improve the Public realm in North Walsham. The pop up exhibition was well attended by a broad range of residents and businesses alike and the Masterplan was well received and has generated some very positive feedback particularly around the greening of the town and the interest in the historic buildings we have in the town.

“I am so pleased the Cultural aspects of the programme have been welcomed. It has been encouraging to see so many people come and get involved and give their suggestions.”

The team also attended the recent North Walsham Funday where lots of people dropped in to find out more and give their views on the identity and future of the town, and a further exhibition is being hosted at Paston College.

People can still get involved by taking part in the Placemaking surveys which are available at the dedicated engagement platform until Midnight July 4.

Last updated: 1st July 2021