Plans to transform a Wiltshire town centre’s waterfront into a “vibrant pedestrianised plaza” have taken another step forward.

The Chippenham One Plan was revealed in April and aims to boost the “vibrancy and sustainability” of the town centre through several key projects.

These include the regeneration of the town’s waterfront along the River Avon, the enhancement of the upper Market Place and other town centre spaces, and the development of the Bridge Centre and Bath Road Car Park.

The long-term project has now taken another step towards realisation after the report from a public consultation, which ran between April and June, was published.

This consultation received 1942 responses to help shape the proposed scheme, which will now be put to interested parties, including Wiltshire Council and the Environment Agency, who will consider the feedback.

Cllr Nic Puntis, the Conservative MP candidate for Chippenham, told this paper that he would like to see the riverside developed to give the town a “boost.”

He said: “For me, this is about giving the town a much-need boost, a boost from the point of view of the businesses who will have more opportunities to expand into bigger premises.

“New businesses could come into the town, it could create a kind of continental cafe culture along a riverfront.

“The attraction of the river has not been used as much as it could have been and the weir is ugly… it’s got to change anyway so we might as well look at the bigger picture and give an exciting vibe to the town.”

Wiltshire Times: The potential view from Town BridgeThe potential view from Town Bridge (Image: Wiltshire Council)

Residents who responded to the consultation backed plans to have the Emery Gate shopping centre front the river, while there was also a high demand for a food, beverage and leisure terrace with outside seating along the water.

There was also support for the creation of a landscaped pedestrian plaza in the Island Park area, with 65 per cent of consultees responding yes to the suggestion.

The report emphasised that this hard paved section would only include the current pavement area adjacent to the existing retail offering, and would not cover any green areas.

Any development of the river would include the replacement of the radial sluice gate, which is in place to maintain upstream water levels and is nearing the end of its design life.

A number of solutions have been proposed, including removing the gate and weir altogether, replacing it with a more modern structure, or installing a series of low rock weirs.

The responses to this issue were fairly evenly split, with the largest number of residents favouring the replacement of the radial gate in order to maintain higher river levels upstream for “aesthetic and recreational” purposes.

Development of the controversial Bridge Centre and Bath Road Car Park was also strongly supported, with most locals hoping to see greater retail and leisure offerings at the site, rather than offices or housing.

However, the loss of parking in the area was opposed, with good levels of parking near the Bridge Centre a priority for many respondents.

Most consultees were supportive of redesigning the High Street and Market Place, to reduce the dominance of cars and enhance the experience of pedestrians.

Wiltshire Times: A sketch of how the redeveloped Bridge Centre could lookA sketch of how the redeveloped Bridge Centre could look (Image: Chippenham One Plan)

But concerns were raised about extending this policy towards New Road and Upper New Road.

The consultation report stated that people were concerned about the loss of access to the train station and that important existing routes should be maintained.

In total the scheme could cost tens of millions of pounds, but this will be dependent on the final designs.

It is hoped a detailed design will be completed in 2024, allowing for construction to begin by summer 2025.