The relocation of Salisbury library to Fisherton Street, or close by, has been an agreed local policy for at least 12 years, and has been supported by the Civic Society, as a sensible accompaniment to redevelopment of the Maltings. It enables the re-use of the existing library area as a new entrance to that part of the city, with a much more creative use of the three arches to the old Market House façade, which will be retained. The picture has been clouded by the current piecemeal approach to Maltings redevelopment, with no overall scheme yet in place, and no timetable indicating how development on the edge of the site will proceed into the core of it.
Further uncertainty has been added by Wiltshire Council’s inability, to date, to properly justify the reduction in size of the proposed new library, now part of a combined library/Travelodge building on Fisherton Street and Malthouse Lane, or to explain what happens to the Young Gallery. The council’s announcement, after the planning application had been submitted, that the new library premises would only be temporary ones only added to the confusion. There is a stated aspiration towards a permanent solution, housing both library and gallery, somewhere in the ‘cultural quarter’ focusing on the Playhouse and City Hall, but no news regarding a specific site for this, or how the building would be funded.
The Civic Society is pressing Wiltshire Council to explain itself much better, and to give credible assurances that the final outcome will be a positive one. The Society believes that a vibrant and thriving library, plus gallery, is essential for the city. On the specific design for the ‘temporary’ building now proposed, the Society has said that engagement in the design process was really needed at a much earlier stage, and that with no opportunity to consider the building in relation to its wider context, in the absence to date of any Maltings master plan, there is little the Society can usefully say about the proposal. A master plan is expected soon, and the Society has expressed the hope that later stages in the overall redevelopment of the area can be handled differently, with an opportunity for involvement much earlier in the design process.
The Society’s representation on the application ended by saying ‘The imaginative design of buildings, and the public realm around them, will be a very important factor in the creation of the envisaged cultural quarter.’
Wednesday 19 March 2019
Archive material: Tuesday 21 November 2017
A capacity audience of some 140 people heard speakers from the developers and Wiltshire County Council present their emerging studies and ideas for the redevelopment of the Maltings and Central Car Park in Salisbury.
The developers TH Real Estate along with the development managers Rivington Land and the architects Haskoll, outlined the principles of development for the site. Richard Walters and Richard Clewer from Wiltshire Council also spoke putting the development into a wider planning context.
The developers presented their analysis of the site looking at the architectural context and character of the city centre, the emerging design and component uses, and aspirations for the public realm and river walk. They emphasised the benefits of improving the sense of arrival, opening up the river walk, cultural activities, and expanding commercial activity and city centre vitality. They intend to continue the exploration of the design and welcomed feedback from the audience.
Salisbury Civic Society was very encouraged by the quality of the presentations and audience questions, clear recognition of the challenges and opportunities, and the constructive debate that followed.
Tuesday 21 November 2017
For most people this was the first opportunity to learn about the proposed shape of this long-running project. Yesterday’s presentations marked the start of pre-planning consultation with an application to be submitted next year, on completion of further consultation (including with the wider community) that will incorporate feedback from that consultation into the scheme design.
The Maltings redevelopment will be one of the most important in Salisbury and South Wiltshire for some time and the Annual Public Open Meeting was an ideal venue for commencing public engagement with the challenges and opportunities it presents.
Archive material: Background on the history of The Maltings Development
After a confused period during which the long-running Maltings project was apparently in the hands of two large developers, with little news as to what was going on, recent announcements have raised the hope that something will finally start to happen. If all goes to plan, work should start on site before the end of 2018.
The idea of a major redevelopment of the central car park, and adjacent areas, has been around for quite a while. The rationale behind it was set out in the statement of aims produced by the (now defunct) Salisbury Vision in 2008, and it was the largest of the 24 projects within Salisbury which the Vision intended to launch. A policy to achieve it was written into the area’s chief planning document, the South Wiltshire Core Strategy, and repeated in the Wiltshire Core Strategy when that superseded the south Wiltshire one on its adoption at the start of 2015. The wording in the Vision document was that the project would be a ‘major retail-led mixed use scheme to greatly enhance Salisbury’s position as a sub-regional shopping and cultural centre.’ Concern that visitors, and in particularly shoppers, are not coming to the city because its facilities have been overtaken by those of neighbouring towns has always been key to the idea of redevelopment. The project started on the basis that London-based developers Stanhope would be Wiltshire Council’s partner, with agreement signed in 2011.
Progress since then has, up to now, been frustratingly slow. After little detailed information being available, the key event came in 2014 with the sale of a long lease on the Sainsbury end of the site by its then owners to property company Hendersons, which meant that Stanhope needed to speak to Hendersons to see how a scheme embracing the whole Maltings area could be achieved. This made further delay almost inevitable. The need to cope with contaminated soil, and to protect the site’s rivers from contamination, were also quoted as a reason for delay.
However in February 2017 £6 million of government money was made available to sort out the soil problems, and there is no chance that this could have happened without firm assurances that with the money in place, the project would finally get going. Stanhope have now withdrawn, leaving Henderson as Wiltshire Council’s sole partner in the project, though the company is now known as TH Real Estate.
The word now is that a phase one scheme should be made public before the end of 2017, with a planning application following, and work due to start on site by September 2018. Completion is anticipated by October 2020, at a stated cost of over £85 million. There is as yet no indication of how the scheme will be divided between a phase one and, presumably, one further phase.
Much remains unknown about the detailed shape of the development, not least the question of whether it is still proposed to include Salisbury’s coach park within it, and if so where the displaced coaches will be accommodated. The Civic Society has been in contact with Wiltshire Council, and with TH Real Estate, and hopes to use its Open Meeting in November as a forum for enabling the transmission of information about the project, and debate about all its various aspects. It has already told TH Real Estate that the architectural approach employed (preferably genuinely contemporary, rather than anything in a neo-traditional vein), and the treatment of the rivers through the site, are of particular interest to it.
The Civic Society’s position has from the start been one of support in principle for the redevelopment, subject to its details being successfully worked out. Like many others, we await further word on those details with great interest.