MAKING the River Biss into an attractive feature at the heart of Trowbridge is the aim of a new study.

West Wiltshire District Council is working with the South West of England Regional Development Agency (South West RDA) to produce a strategy for revitalising the river corridor through the town centre.

Using funding of £148,000 from the South West RDA, a public space plan will be pulled together by consultants Halcrow.

The Agency has invested in the project as part of its work to regenerate towns and cities to support the local economy.

The plan aims to identify opportunities to:

  • Support the regeneration of Trowbridge by improving the townscape and landscape
  • Promote good design in the public realm and adjacent spaces
  • Increase access to public spaces around the River Biss that link to the wider town centre
  • Encourage better use of public spaces
  • Create and reinforce local distinctiveness linked to Trowbridge's heritage
  • Promote accessibility by connecting places within the town centre
  • Reduce crime and anti-social behaviour through quality of public space design

Adam Nardell, the council's regeneration projects manager, said: "We are looking at the length of the river from Biss Meadows to Bradford Road.

"The Biss has long been an underused asset in Trowbridge, but it has the potential to be a real feature of the town centre.

"Drawing up a long term strategy for using and managing the river is the first step; the second stage will be to apply for funding from the South West RDA's Civic Pride initiative, which regenerates town centres by encouraging good design and improving access to public spaces."

Halcrow has now started its work, with site visits, surveys and data collection planned for the coming weeks. This will lead to some initial options being developed, and there will be local consultation on these ideas.

A series of public exhibitions is planned for early in 2008, when local residents will have the opportunity to comment on the proposals. A Civic Pride funding bid will then follow in the spring.

Peter Wynn, the South West RDA's development manager for Wiltshire and Swindon, said: "We have made a commitment to help Trowbridge's regeneration into a prosperous county town, and this study of the River Biss and its surrounds will play a vital role in the process.

"There are already a number of major developments in the town centre where the river is included, and we need to make the most of this superb asset."