The town has become a hub for visitors in recent years, and a very desirable place to live. But changes to the retail sector, and the impact of Covid-19 on a town which enjoys a strong reputation for hospitality and tourism, has prompted council leaders to take action.
To start with, consultants Layer.studio have been appointed to prepare a public realm and place management plan for Ramsbottom.
This will look at:
- Improving the overall townscape, public realm and visitor environment
- Achieving a better balance between all town centre users, vehicle/visitor/pedestrian/cyclists
- Identifying opportunities to create additional space for leisure activity, e.g. improved access to the river and green space
- Having more co-ordinated parking provision, access, and traffic circulation
- Reviewing and enhancing visitor facilities to ensure they remains attractive and relevant
Councillor Eamonn O’Brien, leader of Bury Council, said: “Town centres across the country face huge challenges – the rapid growth in online shopping, increasing rents and rates, and a shift in people’s spending away from products to experiences and lifestyle. Furthermore, the effects of Covid-19 will likely be far-reaching, especially on the hospitality sector which is significant in Ramsbottom.
“The centres that remain successful will be those that have a diverse range of visitor and leisure attractions, modern workplaces and a reconfigured and varied retail experience.
“We need to make sure that Ramsbottom can adapt and respond to these challenges by further improving the quality, appeal and range of attractions in the town to ensure that its economy thrives and remains attractive to visitors.
“These proposals will complement our regeneration plans for Bury, Radcliffe and Prestwich and make sure that all parts of the borough will recover from Covid and flourish.”
The lead consultant is Layer.studio, who have recent project experience in Haslingden and Maryport.
Matthew Warner, Director at Layer.studio, said: “Ramsbottom is a cracking town with bags of heritage and beautiful architecture so we’re hugely excited to be involved in creating a new chapter for the town centre.
“This is all about how we can help Ramsbottom build back better after Covid-19, think boldly about how the town centre should look and feel, and create a new sense of place that residents are proud of and visitors
are drawn to time and again for those special days out with friends and family. We want to make sure that we put Ramsbottom on a sure footing to help the town thrive into the future.
“We’re buzzing with ideas for the future of the town centre, but Ramsbottom has a unique community spirit and is a melting pot of creatives and brilliant indie businesses so to get this right we need local people to get involved and help us shape the plans.
“What public spaces should the town centre offer? How can we kick on with greening the public realm and accelerate Ramsbottom to a low carbon, climate resilient town? What can we do to make Ramsbottom an easier place to get to and move through? We can’t wait to get started and see what the local community thinks.”
Cllr Kevin Thomas, deputy cabinet member for the Ramsbottom Town Plan, said: “Ramsbottom is a special place and we all want to keep it that way. This will be a real team effort, and we’ll need everyone to join in.
“In the weeks and months to come, we’ll be having extensive engagement with local businesses, the community and wider stakeholders because it’s important that we all work together to sustain the town centre’s vibrancy for generations to come.”