the recent MNSG consultation / exhibition at the town hall and wanted to provide
some feedback and comments. Wasn't sure there is enough room on the formal
feedback sheet, so have taken opportunity to email.
Firstly, the work done to date seems really high quality and generally the thinking has
captured both the needs and the spirit of Malmesbury and the residents.
We are facing a non-negotiable position
regarding the new housing stock, and the likelihood of a new supermarket is
high, given Malmesbury is not at saturation point for another major retailer,
as defined by planning guidelines.
Therefore, given the work to date has been mainly a 'compliance' focus; it is evident that
the discussions were well considered and had solid foundations.
I shared a few comments and ideas with Simon Killane regarding future focus for Malmesbury;
his recommendation was to summarise to the MNSG via email:
obviously interested in the housing locations and the likely Waitrose site at
the Silk Mills, but my impression is that sufficient evidence and thinking has
already been done around this to land the issues well for the community.
Overall, my focus is on general strategy and direction for the town, revival and relevance
of the High Street, and development of sports services within the town.
Overall General Strategy & Direction
Malmesbury lacks a cohesive vision and strategy.
It lacks a sense of identity and purpose. Defining a vision and acting on this
vision and strategy will enable traders, community groups, employers,
developers, customers, potential residents etc to understand what the town can
give, and what their contribution can be.
Obvious areas for exploration are:- technology and innovation (Dyson as growth platform)
- food and drink (market and produce - based growth platform)
- tourism (Abbey, Cafes and Cotswold location as growth platform)
...but, this needs more, urgent discussion and a sense of alignment.
It actually doesn't really matter which is the drive strategy, as all of the above can be
realised in the town, but we do need a sense of single-mindedness to hang an
identity on and draw investment into the town.
I would suggest running a set of punchy strategy workshops with key stakeholders/employers/traders from the town to at least understand whether there is an appetite for such a vision and then discover where key
stakeholders' views are.
High Street Revival & Relevance
The High Street is clinging on as a whole. There are sparks of success (Dry Cleaners, Butcher, forthcoming Pizza
restaurant), but the general mix and use of available space is poor and not relevant. The questions I have
- How can existing landlords of vacant commercial property be incentivised to drop their
rates to allow entrepreneurial traders to enter / expand? Can Section 106 finance be used for this?
- How could a town centre enabler (I don't think 'manager' is the right term) be found and
appointed to drive a very specific agenda with the traders. Key issues would be:
1. Enhancing the Business Skills of traders and supporting their growth / trading
liaison and forum. To support landlords get a return from their property without setting unneccessarily high rent demands.
3. Consumer understanding. There is little retail variety to the High St compared to 4 - 5 years ago.
The basic services are in place (dry cleaner, hair, beauty, convenience
etc), but many categories are not represented. Why?
Is it because local demand doesn't exist, or is it other factors?
4. How can the large businesses (Dyson, Barclays, HSBC, Co-Op & Waitrose?) support the
smaller traders and create a town-centric approach rather than carving the town
apart. These five businesses have global capability and talent development programmes
which could be easily adapted and used for local traders to improve
5. Identify what are the flywheel / short term opportunities and issues v medium and long
term issues. Pull together areport outlining Opportunities, Challanges, Enablers, Blockers, Resources
needed etc for the next 3,5,10 years. For example, how could the whole town get behind the new Pizza restaurant
and the art displays there to showcase what Malmesbury can offer?
6. Leverage local excellence for better PR and exposure: Malmesbury Acoustics, Malmesbury Cake
Society, WOMAD, Abbey Skate etc.
Given some funding and thinking, how could these assets be used to drive
greater awareness of the town v Tetbury, Cirencester, Nailsworth, Marlborough
7. How can key punctuation marks throughout the year be leveraged more effectively to
generate greater levels of tourism and resident involvement? The Smoking Dog's
Beer & Sausage Fest? Xmas late night shopping? Malmesbury Carnival? How can
other events be brought together more effectively? New Year? Summer Fetes?
Easter? 'Back to School'? There are dozens of potential event dates throughout
the year that could be explored as a whole town, rather than leaving each
institution to its own thing.
I was a playing member of Malmesbury RFC before it was dissolved a few years ago. This
was due to lack of players and interest, but the underlying desire for sport is
still strong in Malmesbury. Howcan the Activity Zone be expanded to provide additional services and
coaching? How could PD Fitness be supported to develop and expand?
In the absence of any formal business developments, is there any support
or facilities to start a family Sunday-afternoon softball league in St Aldhelms?
Sorry that this is more questions than answers, but I do believe we need to turbo-charge
our thinking about the future of the town and focus on what we stand
I have already offered my time to Simon Killane to contribute to the discussions and I
do so again now.
Malmesbury Neighbourhood Steering Group
What others are saying about our Draft Neighbourhood Plan Over 500 residents have already looked at the draft plan. These are the comments that they have made about it.
Our consultation runs from the 5th of March 2013 to April 26th 2013. These are the published comments received up to 08/03/13.
All comments below were submitted to this online feedback portal. We hold the identity and addresses for each submission and have decided not to publish them unless specifically requested by the person who submitted them.