Funding boost for town centre events hub

Artist's impression of public square as part of Waterside North development
Artist's impression of public square as part of Waterside North development

Plans to create a new outdoor events area in Aylesbury town centre, which would help showcase Stoke Mandeville’s role in the Paralympics, have been given a major boost thanks to government funding.

The investment forms part of the second round of funding delivered by the Government’s Local Growth Deal, with the £46m windfall being used to help kickstart a total of 10 projects across the region.

Cllr Neil Blake, Leader of Aylesbury Vale District Council said it was ‘excellent news’.

“The Waterside North project in Aylesbury will enable the delivery of the Masterplan for this area in the centre of Aylesbury with over 1,000 new jobs.

“There will also be an outdoor events infrastructure to be used, among other things, for events surrounding the torch lighting ceremony as home of the Paralympics. This is great news for the residents of Aylesbury.”

The events area will see the lighting of the torch to mark the start of the Paralympics and Winter Paralympics every two years.

Ian Barham, Buckinghamshire Legacy Manager, said: “The Waterside North site offers a fantastic opportunity for Aylesbury to deliver a new public space that can set new standards of accessibility and can be a hub for major community events.

“It is fitting that the town renowned internationally as the Birthplace of the Paralympic movement is seeking to capitalise on this unique opportunity and provide a fitting home for future Paralympic flame celebrations.”

Dr Ann Limb OBE DL, chair of South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership, which secured the funding, said: “I am delighted that SEMLEP has received £46.7m as part of the Local Growth Deal round 2.

“This will build on the £79.3m received in round 1 and help to deliver yet more jobs and new homes.

“The projects build on the strengths of our area as identified in our Strategic Economic Plan investing in key sectors including the cultural and creative sector to deliver highly skilled jobs.”

Central to the Waterside North proposals is the creation of a new public square next to the Odeon Cinema which is intended to complement the existing Market Square.

The district council’s masterplan states: “The new square will eventually provide a new pedestrian link between Walton Street and the High Street. The design of the new square will provide extensive grassed “lawns” bounded by wide, hard paved areas adjacent to the new ground floor activities.

“These areas create space for restaurants to provide external seating and room for people to move comfortably at their own pace, whether rushing to meet someone or simply promenading.”

A council spokesman said they have not yet been told how much of the £47m they will receive.