Mixed use plans for Gungate backed

Monday, 29th March 2021

MORE than 200 people have had their say on how they would like Tamworth’s Gungate site to be regenerated – and many have backed a mix of uses as the way forward.

More than 200 people have had their say on how they would like Tamworth’s Gungate site to be regenerated – and many have backed a mix of uses as the way forward.

In 2018, Tamworth Borough Council bought the piece of land which used to be home to the Gungate Precinct, from private developers. Plans by the developers to regenerate the site never came to fruition and it has been used as a temporary car park ever since.

When it came up for sale, it was felt by the Council that this represented a good investment opportunity for the town and the chance to finally unlock it for regeneration. The council already owned the Spinning School Lane car park land opposite the police station.

Aerial shot of car parks. © Tamworth Informed.

In 2018, TBC bought the piece of land which used to be home to the Gungate Precinct (seen in yellow) and the TBC carpark (seen in blue). © Tamworth Informed.

In February the council held a virtual public consultation to find out how residents and businesses would like the Gungate site to be used in the future.

Views were sought on whether a mix of uses was appropriate, as well as what leisure facilities and housing types they would like to see and how public transport could fit into the site.

On Wednesday (March 24) the council’s Corporate Scrutiny Committee considered the response to the consultation.

Committee members were told that council leader Jeremy Oates was pleased with both the number and quality of responses.

There were 209 responses submitted during the digital consultation, as well as a number of comments made on social media.

An indicative view of how the site could look and feel

An indicative view of how the site could look and feel. (Credit: Tamworth BC)

A report to the committee said: “Due to the Covid-19 pandemic it was only possible to carry out a virtual consultation using the council’s website. The virtual consultation had responses from 197 residents, four town centre businesses and three visitors. In addition five respondents wrote directly to the council.

“It is clear that there is great interest in how the Gungate will change in the future. Support for all the regeneration proposals can be found within the responses, with only 10% of respondents against the idea for a mixed-use development on the site, though it would be fair to say that all respondents supporting a mixed-use development had their own view of the ideal mix of uses.

“There was general support for an attractive night-time economy of high quality restaurants and bars. There was also general support for pedestrianisation and for improved links with Tamworth train station.

“Residential development generated the full range of opinion from 100% in favour to 100% against and, in terms of housing tenure, from 100% social housing to 0% social housing. Responses to questions on design favoured the traditional rather than the contemporary but views on flats versus terraces versus town houses were inconclusive.

“There was interest in the provision of medical services and health related businesses on the site from both the public and Staffordshire Clinical Commissioning Group. This use had been listed in the consultation document but the public’s responses suggest that greater consideration should be given to this form of development.

“The MSCP (multi-storey car park), leisure centre and hotel proposals had a mixed response – an underground car park was mentioned favourably more than once. The demand for a new leisure centre was thought to be unproven and potentially non-existent due to the existing leisure facilities at the Snowdome, Strykers Bowling and various gyms and schools. Similarly, the existing hotel provision in the town centre was considered to meet demand.

“Traffic in general and in particular the Bell Junction was considered to be a potential problem, along with the availability of parking and the cost and pricing strategy for parking.”

Aerial image of spinning school lane and buildings.

The former Police Station (Purple), County Council Buildings (Orange), Court (Pink) and Bingo Hall (Green) could feature in the plans. © Tamworth Informed.

Committee members recommended to cabinet that the mixed-used development vision should remain.

Councillor Simon Peaple said:

“I think with this type of development it’s very unlikely to attract 100% agreement on any one element, simply because of the number of alternatives. The report highlights the car park – not everyone is going to want a multi-storey car park.”

Councillor Simon Goodall said:

“Question one – do you think a mix of uses is appropriate for the site – in the consultation is quite clear. I think it is probably what we all want to see.

“It’s categorically clear that people want mixed use and I think that says it all about what our aspiration for that site should be.”

Councillor Patrick Standen said:

“I think the town centre has become a living site again and we need people living there for it to be a vibrant living space again.”

The Gungate regeneration project is separate to the £21.65m Future High Streets Fund award announced recently to transform the heart of the town centre, including St Editha’s Square and the entrance to the Castle Grounds which we reported on in December.