October 2021 survey
In October 2021 the placemaking sub-group carried out an online and paper survey of people’s thoughts about The Square and Wiveliscombe town centre. We asked what people liked, what they didn’t like, what changes they thought could be made, and what also what dangers lay in store if changes were made. In effect this was a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) of the town centre as it is today.
152 people replied to the online survey while 37 people replied to the face-to-face paper survey. There were also five responses from local businesses. Reports on the responses can be found below.
Summary of findings
The town centre and The Square have an important role to play in the life of Wiveliscombe. The range of businesses and services is seen as a strength and many people referred to it as a place to meet friends, to congregate and to attend events.
Car parking dominates consideration of current problems and future change. A third of the answers to what people do not like (Q2) refer to parking as excessive and uncontrolled. For a smaller number of people the lack of legitimate on-street parking in The Square is the main issue. Resolving this situation attracted the most comments although without any emerging consensus. Proposals for the future include better provision for disabled drivers, better management and enforcement, improvements to the public car parks and, at opposite ends of the spectrum, a complete ban on car parking and removing the ‘brick area’ to return The Square to its pre-1990s format with perimeter parking. The most commonly referred to future threats also relate to parking; either too much, or too little, or a lack of enforcement meaning that changes have no effect.
In tandem with parking, traffic flows and pedestrianisation are also mentioned. The congestion in The Square and the difficulties this causes for deliveries, buses and through-traffic are all highlighted. Proposed solutions include a one-way system, diversions and traffic calming. Some people would like to see more pedestrianisation, although this is seen as a significant threat by others. The lack of crossing points especially for children and the disabled is highlighted.
To many people the town centre looks tired and scruffy. Damage to and loss of some key street furniture is an issue, but so is the poor repair of some buildings, the lack of street cleaning, the appearance of the cafe and the lack of greenery. Restoring the Town Hall and bringing it back into use is seen as an opportunity, including reinstatement of the portico, but there also needs to be more attention paid to day-to-day maintenance and upkeep of the public areas. Many people asked for better seating.
Improvements to the retail offer included requests for various types of shop (bakery in particular) but also the need for the Co-op to be larger, potentially by relocating to Croft Way. Distinct threats to businesses were seen in less parking which would encourage people to shop elsewhere.