Completion of second High Street Heritage Action Zone for Midlands landscape architect

Landscape architecture practice Influence Landscape Planning and Design is celebrating the completion of North Walsham Market Place - its second High Street Heritage Action Zone project.

As part of North Walsham High Street Heritage Action Zone, the completed works have been delivered to improve the balance between pedestrians and vehicles in the North Norfolk town and enable it to embrace its heritage and community.

Nottinghamshire-based Influence were the public realm lead consultant, project manager and designer of the scheme, which was funded by North Norfolk District Council, Historic England and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

The three funding organisations made a collective investment of £2.6m in the placemaking scheme, out of the overall North Walsham High Street Heritage Action Zone budget of £3.8m.

Having previously worked on the urban planning and design of Kettering High Street Heritage Action Zone in 2022, North Walsham is the second High Street Heritage Action Zone Influence have worked on.

In North Walsham, the objective of the works was to regenerate the Market Place, situated within the town’s Conservation Area, to rejuvenate the High Street and increase pedestrian footfall and dwell time.

In addition, a wider investment in the North Norfolk town has delivered a new travel hub, new toilet facilities, new benches, the planting of trees and plants and remedial works to some buildings.

Norfolk County Council managed the placemaking works of the project and Tarmac, a sustainable building materials and construction solutions business, carried out the majority of the construction works.

The completion of the North Walsham High Street Heritage Action Zone was marked last week with an event involving representatives from construction partners, Historic England, North Norfolk District Council and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership.

The event involved a tour of the revamped Market Place and other nearby improvements and included speeches from Tony Calladine, East of England Regional Director for Historic England, North Norfolk District Council Chief Executive Steve Blatch and Chris Starkie CEO of New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, followed by a performance from The Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and North Walsham High School.

Chartered practice Influence provides expertise in project management, environmental planning, feasibility and concept development, master planning and urban design, landscape design, visual impact assessment, expert witness and arboriculture.

Shona Hatton, associate director at Influence, said: “High Street Heritage Action Zones are such a key part of the future for our towns - especially post the pandemic – and are often driven by a strong local community interest. Revitalising and regenerating our high streets whilst reinstating the heritage roots is critical to their success, now and in the future.

“North Walsham is a vibrant market town but has been waiting for a long time to bring forward a high street public realm project. The Influence team and I were honoured to have been selected to work on this important project, and are pleased to have supported North Norfolk District Council’s in-house team in its delivery. The opening celebration on 11 May demonstrated how public realm improvements can kick start wider renewal of Conservation Areas and The Shambles terraced gardens are an excellent example of how revealing heritage can transform disregarded spaces into places with unique character.

“Our previous experience in the delivery of High Street Heritage Action Zones gave us specialist knowledge and understanding of the challenges and huge opportunities in our high streets - we have used that experience to great effect to reimagine the physical and social environment of North Walsham- to enable it to be a prosperous town where people want to live, work and relax.”

Tony Calladine, East England Regional Director, Historic England, said: “It’s wonderful to see this remarkable transformation in the town, from the visually welcoming area of Church Approach to the huge undertaking of the Market Place renovations. Partnership working with North Norfolk District Council and the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership has led to some remarkable outcomes, and this work continues with exciting projects to revitalise The Cedars and the former Barclays Bank. North Walsham’s historic character shines through and offers an attractive experience for residents and visitors alike.”

Chris Starkie, CEO, New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “North Walsham, like other town centres in our region, serves a substantial hinterland, and making it more pedestrian-friendly and accessible will improve trading conditions and strengthen its economic viability. It is crucial that our town and city centres receive the financial support need in order to thrive, especially after the disruption of recent years, and I’m delighted to see first-hand the enhancements delivered by this project.”

Other members of the North Walsham High Street Heritage Action Zone project team include Gleeds as quantity surveyor, HETA as master planners and consultation, Rees Bolter Architects as heritage consultants and BSP Consulting on highways.