The first £15million stage of the redevelopment of Aylesbury town centre will focus on new restaurants, homes and open spaces – but not new shops.
Phase One of the masterplan, which is made public today, will see the area opposite the Odeon Cinema become a Mecca for restaurants, bars and flats facing a ‘new town square’.
Artists’ impressions show a grand, cloisters-style building housing eateries on the ground floor and flats above.
This is the third time plans for Exchange Street have been put forward over more than a decade, with the credit crunch shelving many of the previous proposals.
Neil Blake, who as leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council is jointly responsible for spearheading the project said: “It is quite fortunate in many ways that we didn’t go ahead with the plans when they were put forward a few years ago.
“This was when we were going to bring in an anchor department store in the redevelopment of the town centre. I think we were very lucky with the way that the economy has gone. The vision then was retail, the vision now is for less retail.
“The market has changed and people’s ideas have changed and the market for shops is not as strong.”
He added: “The success of the new Wagmama and Nandos is generating interest.
“Success breeds success and if restaurateurs see what is already going on they will want to come here.”
A planning application, which will be submitted in June this year will include around 2,250 square metres of food and beverage facilities, 3,950 square metres of residential space, 4,750 square metres of public open space and 350 square metres of community space.
The plans for phase one also include new pedestrian routes to Exchange Street and Walton Street from the town centre and enhanced landscaping around Judges Lodgings.If the application is successful the councils say that works could begin as early as spring 2015.
Martin Tett, leader of Bucks County Council, which is also responsible for the scheme together with Aylesbury Vale Advantage, said: “By utilising the assets of Aylesbury Vale District Council and Bucks County Council we can do so much.
“If more people come to live in the town centre they will use these bars and cafes, and the retail will thrive as well.
Bucks County Council has already submitted a planning application to complete the £2million groundworks for the phase one scheme.
This includes the demolition of the rear of the old county office buildings and one of the former police station buildings so that a temporary surface car park can be built. If approved the new car park will be open in late 2014. As a result of the proposed phase one project 95 parking spaces will be lost in Exchange Street surface car park.
To read other stories on the redevelopment plans, click on the links below.