Wiltshire Council and Devizes Town Council have agreed on a transfer of assets and functions that will see the Market Place and the Shambles brought into Town Council management in the Spring. As a condition of the transfer of the Market Place, all car parking will cease and the Market Place will be converted to community use.
Simon Fisher, Devizes Town Council Town Clerk, attended our recent committee meeting to outline the opportunities and challenges of this major change to the town centre, the success of which will depend on creating a vibrant community space in the centre of the town.
Plans include taking on a new Market Manager who will be actively involved in the promotion of the town to tourists and shoppers. A new tourist website is to be created to promote the town and the Shambles and the Market Place will be improved with the help of £480k from a section 106 agreement for the development of the area.
The Town Council are currently developing plans for the centre of the town and ideas of the use of the Market Place include:
> more regular markets
> regular community events and mini-festivals
> pop-up or semi-permanent micro-stores and food vendors
> development of the interior of the Shambles
> trees and plants
> improved cycle parking
> coach parking
At the end of last year, the Devizes Chamber was involved in the parking consultation with the County Council as part of the parking group set up by the Town Council. Faced with the alternative of either parking machines in the Market Place or transfer to the Town Council on a no parking basis, the Chamber felt neither was the ideal solution.
The Chamber proposed a compromise that would maintain a proportion of free parking and the creation of a smaller community space in the Market Place. This proposal and other similar proposals were rejected by Wiltshire Council, resulting in the Town Council’s decision to take over the entire space for community use. The Devizes Chamber will now work with the Town Council to help make this ambitious initiative a success.