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North Walsham Town Centre

The North Walsham HSHAZ project, with town centre placemaking at its heart, celebrates and enhances the rich heritage of North Walsham. The unique historic character of the town centre, a designated Conservation Area, will be regenerated, creating a better functioning, attractive and thriving economic hub for residents, businesses and visitors.

Public Realm Masterplan and Placemaking
North Walsham Town Centre

Driven by strong local community interest, North Norfolk District Council (NNDC) appointed Heta, as part of a wider design team led by Influence landscape architects, to develop the public realm masterplan and placemaking strategy as part of the North Walsham High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) project.

Project Details

  • Category: Community, Placemaking, Public Consultation
  • Location: North Walsham, UK
  • Status: Active

Project Approach and Objectives

Heta led the community engagement process and developed a comprehensive place audit and masterplan that focused on making the town centre a destination that embraces its heritage and community.

The town has numerous heritage assets, a strong sense of community and a longstanding market culture, but struggles to best showcase its historic character through a distinctive identity and high quality public realm.

Heritage-led Masterplan

One of the key objectives of the project, and the focus of Heta’s masterplan, is to improve the fabric of the North Walsham town centre public realm and streetscape, and to re-connect or ‘re-stitch’ the historic core through improvements to gateways, arrival spaces and lokes. This will significantly improve navigation around the town centre, encouraging better pedestrian flow, creating welcoming entrances into the town centre, increasing overall footfall and dwell time. Integrating wellness into the built environment was also an important aspect of our approach. Designed as a programme of projects, collectively they will help to support the sustainable use of the town and meet the long term needs of the community.

Illustrative Masterplan highlighting key town centre improvement projects.

Community Engagement

Heta led the consultation on the public realm masterplan and designs and highways proposals via several platforms: virtual stakeholder workshops and presentations, face-to-face exhibitions in the town centre, targeted focus groups with audiences including those with accessibility needs and young people, surveys and a digital engagement website, where visitors were given the opportunity to provide feedback using a number of engagement tools. Through this multi-faceted approach, we gathered a significant amount of qualitative and quantitative data that went on to inform and influence the latest design and Highways proposals, as well as future comms and marketing strategies.

With community-based participation at its center, an effective placemaking process capitalizes on a local community’s assets, inspiration, and potential, and it results in the creation of quality public spaces that contribute to people’s health, happiness, and well being... Placemaking shows people just how powerful their collective vision can be. It helps them to re-imagine everyday spaces, and to see anew the potential of parks, downtowns, waterfronts, plazas, neighborhoods, streets, markets, campuses and public buildings.

Project for Public Spaces, What is Placemaking?
A variety of face-to-face opportunities for the local community and the project team to engage with each other.
A digital platform that served as a ‘one-stop-shop’ for project communications and virtual engagement activities.

People Analysis and Place Identity

To attract, engage and create a sense of belonging for North Walsham’s local community and current and future visitors, Heta used human-centred design processes such as community engagement, user profiling, experiential mapping and analysis to develop key insights to understand the interactions various audiences have with North Walsham, their current challenges within the town centre and the potential opportunities to respond to their needs and desires.

To further the aims of creating a town that people want to spend time in, energises the economy, sparks entrepreneurship, and builds community pride, we explored the creation of a shared, distinctive story for the town that will make North Walsham a destination. Potential story themes were tested through community engagement and stakeholder workshops.

Potential story themes to identify what North Walsham should celebrate and build a shared identity around.
Public realm and Highways interventions and opportunities highlighted through the development of the Masterplan.

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