Blog

The Shrewsbury Design Code: What's it all About?
03 Jan 2023

The new Shrewsbury Design Code aims to guide new development to enhance the historic & special character of our town. You are invited to have your say on the buildings, streets and public spaces you consider important as well as those you think are in need of improvement - with a deadline of January 20th, 2023 for responses.

A common fear amongst those of us who love Shrewsbury is that new developments may change and undermine what makes the town such a special place. But a new ‘design code’, being created through the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan Partnership, could help allay those fears. Lisa Richards, Design Code Project Manager at Shropshire Council, answers our questions. 

  • What is the Shrewsbury Design Code?

Design codes are essentially a set of principles expressed in words, pictures and tables to guide the delivery of high quality schemes so they enhance rather than detract from the unique and historic character of the town.

  • Why is it important? And specifically in a town like Shrewsbury?

One of the key priorities agreed through the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan was that any new developments should reflect the town’s outstanding heritage by meeting ‘The Shrewsbury Test’.

A successful way of achieving this is to create a design code setting out the areas considered special and important to maintain, but also to be enhanced by any future development. By identifying these unique qualities at the outset, the Design Code offers a level of certainty and clarity for any new proposals to take into account.

The Shrewsbury Design Code image showing a new bridge in Frankwell

  • How will it be used?

Once the design code has been approved, it becomes what is known as a material consideration, this means that a developer will need to show how their proposals meet the codes in order to secure planning approval for their scheme and if they don’t, Shropshire Council may subsequently reject the application.

  • Who is behind it?

This is very much a collaborative project, involving Shropshire Council, Shrewsbury Town Council and Shrewsbury BID, who make up the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan Partnership.

The project has been grant funded by the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and Shropshire Council is one of 25 local authorities taking part in the Design Code Pathfinders programme.

Working alongside the Shrewsbury Big Town Plan Partnership, are urban design and planning specialists, LDA Design an as part of their work, they are talking to local landowners, community groups, and businesses operating in the town as part of an 8 weeks consultation which is already underway.

  • What role can the public play in this?

The public can play a vital role! This is a fantastic opportunity to help shape the future of Shrewsbury - but as we are working to some tight deadlines, it is important that you share your views with us as soon as you can.

A dedicated and interactive website has been created which makes it quick and easy to make comments about what you like and what you think needs to change in the West End, Frankwell and Riverside areas of Shrewsbury - it’s important to be clear that this stage of the project is to create a design code for this specific part of the town centre.

We want the view of anyone and everyone - you don’t need to live in this part of Shrewsbury - all views are tremendously important.

The deadline to make your comments is January 20, 2023 and the website address is: shrewsburydesigncode.commonplace.is

  • What sort of feedback would be most useful?

We are keen to hear any comments, but are ideally looking for opinions on which buildings, streets and public spaces are considered important and valued as well as which may be in need of improvement as they currently detract from the town centre experience.

For ease, the website has an interactive map where people can drop pins to make it clear what they are commenting on and why they feel that way, as well as sharing any ideas on what other things could be done to enhance the area and make it a great place to be.

We would also like people to take photographs and upload them to the map. Signs are being installed around this part of the town centre to prompt questions and encourage people to get involved by scanning a QR code on their smartphone.

  • Why are you most interested in Riverside/Frankwell/West End to begin with?

Evidence shows that design codes work best when they are specifically created for defined areas rather than having a blanket code for an entire town. The type of development which is appropriate for Frankwell may well be different to what’s needed in Castlefields, for example.

We are starting by creating a design code for the west end, Frankwell and Riverside part of town, but the intention is to then create design codes for other parts of Shrewsbury to ensure its unique character remains for many years to come.

For more information and to get involved, go to shrewsburydesigncode.commonplace.is