Allies and Morrison have been appointed by the Shropshire Council to make innovative changes that will help shape Oswestry into a better place. With the help from students who attend the Marches School, the idea is to create a master plan that sets out all of the key adaptions and new developments that will eventually shape Oswestry and surrounding areas. Voicing the ideas of the future generation will help to put forward fresh perspectives and create an outstanding plan.
Several discussion sessions have taken place amongst some of the students and the urban practitioner, in hope to provide the opportunity to bring positive benefits to the town and surrounding area. The role of the students is to reimagine spaces in the town and put forward ideas that will impact not only the town itself but the local community also. One of the most common discussion themes between students is the need to make Oswestry better connected to surrounding areas which can be achieved through newly revised bus routes and safer bike paths. In the long term, students want the railway to re-open to improve connections to destinations outside of the local area, but for now they are concentrated on achieving short term success. The majority of the students feel Oswestry is lacking in colour which limits the community environment and friendly atmosphere, in hope to change this, some of our students have suggested touching up the town centre and adding new outdoor furniture to achieve this sense of community.
To further add to the friendly atmosphere there are plans to make the town more pedestrianised with a key focus on widening pavements throughout the town. One of the main concerns is the narrow footpath leading from The Marches School all the way through to the centre of town. Students have said they find the path dangerous and often end up walking on the road in order to walk with friends which then creates further problems for cars. This is one of the students main priorities to adapt. The old Morrison’s is a big development project in itself and students have been brainstorming ideas to figure out what would best suit this space. The latest meeting showed plans to change the space into residential properties, which came as a surprise for some but after discussing the proposed idea some of our sixth form students suggested putting a small café or local businesses on the ground floor to create a mix of both houses and businesses, and to maximise the utility of the town.
Other aims and objectives include, hosting more events and using the whole of the town space to do so, adding more outdoor seating areas, improving the appearance of alleyways and buildings as well as adapting the market space and making the heritage of Oswestry more known to locals and visitors with a focus on four main areas.
The feedback from the students gives the impression that they are excited to see the future developments of Oswestry in both the short term and the long term. Students have also said they feel honoured to be part of such a big and innovative project in which they will see their ideas being developed in the forefront. The masterplan will help create and support a thriving town and make Oswestry a better place for all.