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Vision for Droitwich Spa Town Centre

In the next 20 years Droitwich Spa will be a vibrant Spa town with leisure, wellness and ‘spa’ at its heart - known for its unique salt heritage and its quality outdoor brine lido. This will provide a distinct and quality experience for those wanting to visit the town but also help to attract new people to live in the Town Centre and surrounds.

The town will have a broad appeal for those wanting to prioritise heath and wellbeing –building on the great assets of the lido, canal, Vines Park and Lido Park and green spaces. Droitwich Spa will be a place where new families want to settle, providing the balance of high quality Town Centre living, the opportunity to have a healthy, active lifestyle and the ability to access great amenities on their doorstep.

Strategic objectives for Droitwich Spa Town Centre

To achieve the vision there are 7 strategic objectives:

  1. To develop a high-quality Town Centre living offer by attracting new developers and investors who want to build high-quality residential development within the Town Centre and redevelop and regenerate brownfield sites, as well as those sites that can support waterside living.
  2. To provide a high-quality public realm and built environment, with opportunities to ‘green’ and soften the existing public realm, streets and spaces.
  3. To curate an experience for the town which goes beyond retail - introducing new leisure opportunities which build upon the town’s health and Spa uniqueness.
  4. To promote Droitwich Spa as a spa and leisure destination to promote health and well being - using successful place-branding and building upon the Lido, brine baths, private hospital, bespoke events (building on the success of Salt Fest), and generating vibrancy, activity and greater dwell-time within the Town Centre core and establishing a health corridor (cycle, walk, wildlife) following the route of the canal and river that run through the town linking the Marina to Churchfields.
  5. To support existing businesses as key ambassadors for the place –helping them to think more innovatively, to diversify, to expand their customer base and providing them with the right support, training and tools to be a success, as well as providing the right environment to encourage new businesses and ‘pop ups’ to tackle vacancies in the Town Centre.
  6. To provide a high-quality public realm and built environment -which enhances the heritage of the Town Centre, provides attractive spaces for people to want to dwell and improves the legibility and permeability of the Town Centre. This includes making the most of active travel opportunities and reducing reliance on the private car.
  7. Climate resilience to facilitate a low carbon lifestyle –through transport and active travel and reducing car dominance, access to services, but also on adapting to climate change with the natural environment providing mitigation for extreme weather events, sequestering carbon and increasing biodiversity.

Spatial strategy for Droitwich Spa Town CentreDroitwich High Street with shops on the left a road down the middle and parked cars on the right.

Rather than create a masterplan for the town centre, which will have a fixed set of ideas and proposals about what needs to be done based on what we know now, a spatial strategy has been produced instead.

Put simply, a spatial strategy maps out all the assets in the town centre area and suggests how best they can be arranged to achieve the vision and strategic objectives.

The advantage of using this approach is it can be changed and altered as opportunities occur and circumstances change over the next 20 years.

The spatial strategy for Droitwich proposes:

  • Creating a high-quality Town Centre living offer through the Raven Hotel site, Baxenden site and in the north-west at Netherwich Basin to create a waterside living offer.
  • Creating a strong attraction to the town which goes beyond retail. This could include a museum at Netherwich Basin, reconfiguration of High Street to enhance the public realm and greater emphasis of the Lido Park.
  • Enhancing the legibility of the town through improved public realm and active travel routes. This would include better walking and cycling links from the station to the Town Centre via Ombersley Way and Ombersley Street East and from the Lido Park to the Town Centre via Saltway/ Tower Hill/ High Street.
  • Improvements to underpasses which will help to create safer environments and a more pleasant experience, while strengthening the accessibility of the Town Centre.
  • Introduction of traffic calming measures and pedestrian priority measures along the historic High Street will encourage a greater appreciation of the character of this area.
  • Celebrating the Town Centre green space at Vines Park and Lido Park by better connecting it into the heart of the town.
  • Reconfiguration of St Andrew’s Shopping Centre to include reoriented units to visually open the core of the site which will help provide enhanced pedestrian connections from Vines Park through to the south of the town. It will also help in generating vibrancy, activity, and greater dwell-time within the Town Centre core.
  • Providing stronger active travel links between the station and Lido Park through the Town Centre via Ombersley Way and Ombersley Street East.
  • Providing a high-quality public realm and built environment which enhances the heritage of the Town Centre, provides attractive spaces for people to want to dwell and improves the legibility and permeability of the Town Centre.
  • Changing perception of Saltway as a barrier, by improving pedestrian and cycle crossings, encouraging a flow of movement across the town.

Movement strategy for Droitwich Spa Town Centre

The movement strategy puts forward options for how travel in and around the town centre can be improved to meet the vision and strategic objectives.

  • Upgraded High Street Corridor to help promote activity and revitalise the area –a proposal here is for a three-staged approach to pilot restrictions of vehicular movements along the High Street, which would be temporary initially to assess the impact of the closures on local businesses, footfall and dwell-time. Through doing this however there is the opportunity to curate specific events and encourage meanwhile uses in this part of the Town Centre.
  • Improved pedestrian crossings located at strategic points around Saltway -to better connect the Town Centre with its surroundings: Vines Park, Droitwich Spa Lido and towards the Station. These are to address the existing constraint/ barrier of the Saltway to pedestrian and cyclist movement, including the linkages between those residential communities on the edge of the Town Centre.
  • Enhanced active travel link from Droitwich Spa Station to Droitwich Spa Lido Park -which will improve pedestrian and cyclist routes along Ombersley Way and Ombersley Street East. There is the opportunity to enhance the active travel link from the station to make the experience more pleasant and safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The final preferred active travel route here would be subject to further feasibility testing and public consultation.
  • Better Linkages to Green and Open Space from the Town Centre-including improved pedestrian links from Droitwich Spa Station along Union Lane connecting north to Vines Park, and recognition that parks, sports, green streets and community gardens form part of a 20-minute neighbourhood –supporting well-being and liveability of local neighbourhoods.
  • Together with Droitwich Spa Town Council and other partners, we are leading a project to improve and enhance underpasses to create a sense of safety and improve natural surveillance as part of a wider integrated network.
  • Improved wayfinding around the Town Centre and improved pedestrian/ cycle signage –branded/ heritage character for signage.
  • Encouraging modal shift through Initial Brompton Bike Hire/ Electric Scooter hire hub; opportunity to combine with discounts for main attractions –Lido etc and local bikeability courses, cycle training and information events, promote use of community public space, e.g. during market days or similar events at Victoria Square.

There are long-term opportunities as well including:

  • The opportunity for sustained behavioural change building on the experience, trends and focus on well-being experienced during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Scope to reduce the requirement for pipeline junction capacity improvements within the current Local Transport Plan, given a greater focus on value added through public realm/ active travel enhancements.
  • Potential for rationalisation of surface car parking within the Town Centre. This would need to be supported by a detailed car parking study to determine capacity and parking users’ requirements. There is potential (subject to viability considerations) to look at a multi-modal hub which would consolidate parking as well as encourage active travel modes.
  • Future parking strategy to inform consolidation/ reallocation of surface car parking in the centre.

Proposed change zones and opportunity sites for Droitwich Spa Town Centre

These sites have the greatest potential to make significant changes for the better to Droitwich Spa Town Centre.

A new residential quarter – Town Centre West

To the west of the town is an opportunity to create an attractive, waterside residential quarter concentrating on the three key sites: Union Lane (Baxenden site), Netherwich Basin and the current fire station site.

Collectively these sites provide a major opportunity to deliver a prominent, high quality residential scheme which appeals to young professionals and families. There is scope to deliver mainly two-storey dwellings (two and three bed) and a small proportion of apartments.

Union Lane – Baxenden site

This site comprises land north and south of Union Lane, within 100 metres of Droitwich Spa Railway Station. This brownfield site provides an opportunity to create a medium density scheme which is well connected to public transport nodes and a short walk from the Town Centre. There could be longer-term opportunities to redevelop parts of North Street Industrial Estates to create a larger opportunity site (subject to land assembly) and provide high-quality development as one of the key gateways into the town. The site provides an option for additional station parking if required.

Our initial appraisal of the site identifies a potential residential scheme, comprising mainly 2-2.5 storey development alongside the opportunity for a small local centre (convenience store or equivalent) with potential for youth and recreational facilities. Pedestrian and cycle links will be important here too, providing an attractive active travel route into the Town Centre.

Netherwich BasinAerial shot of Netherwich basin

To the north of Union Lane is the Netherwich Basin site which provides for an attractive Canalside setting and is part of the town’s rich salt heritage. Much of the land is in public ownership and therefore can come forward without significant land assembly constraints. There is scope to better connect this site with the Town Centre by enhancing links across the Saltway (ring road).

A proportion of the site is allocated as a mixed-use allocation for up to 80 homes and the flexibility to bring forward other complementary uses will maximise the canal-side setting which could include leisure and amenity uses.

Fire station site

This prominent site is currently occupied by Hereford and Worcester Fire Authority. This gateway site alongside land parcels at the canal basin and Union Lane offer the opportunity to create a new residential quarter potentially featuring a distinctive arts and theatre offer and create Town Centre living in a sustainable location.

Other benefits of the town centre west proposal would include:

  • A permanent home for the Pamela May Canal Boat and Museum.
  • Creation of a new arrival gateway to the town along Friar Street, as well as providing enclosure and overlooking development to the Saltway.
  • Sensitive and responsive design, reflecting the local listed buildings and conservation area can create an animated and attractive series of links to both the canal and through to Union Lane.
  • A variety of two, two and a half and three storey townhouses provide opportunities for family living within the Town Centre. 133 Houses/ 252 apartments.
  • Introduction of south side mooring along the canal, offering additional canal-based leisure opportunities to access the Town Centre.

St Andrew’s Shopping Centre

Residents and visitors are seeking a broader offer than solely retail within town centres. This development provides the opportunity to create a more experiential retail offer –coupling retail outlets alongside food and beverage, appealing to new independent-retailers and eateries, as well as extending opening hours beyond 9am to 5pm.

As is the case with many regional towns, there is scope to rationalise the quantum of retail floorspace and repurpose elements to bring in community uses as well as residential provision in the heart of the Town Centre. Initial proposals are being developed to ensure the right balance of uses and improved permeability through the site.

High street

There is an opportunity to create the right public realm and pedestrian environment to encourage footfall and people to spend more time in the town centre. With the support of local businesses opportunities include reducing on-street parking and pedestrianisation and improving the linkages between St Andrew’s Shopping Centre and the High Street.

Complementing the retail offer, a well-curated events programme alongside the opportunity for ‘pop-ups’ in some of the vacant buildings will further widen the appeal of the town to families, young professionals, day-trippers and tourists.

Place branding is also key – celebrating the High Street’s uniqueness which in turn will attract greater visitor footfall. We have identified the High Street as an opportunity to create a visitor-focused offer building on the strengths and heritage of Droitwich Spa, for example a ‘Droitwich Shop’, which features turning the brine into salt as a craft display along with Droitwich Spa and local area products.

A historic and narrow street, the High Street is currently dominated by vehicular access, preventing spill out space and opportunities to dwell.

The Prospectus identifies the High Street as an area with the potential to diversify the types of activities and functions that the town can offer through a series of incremental interventions. These are intended to draw more people to the town more regularly, to create opportunities to rationalise and improve parking arrangements, creating more spaces to dwell, accommodate more pedestrian and active travel opportunities, to host larger events and to create spill out space for local businesses and community organisations.

These series of interventions are designed to implement gradual change to the High Street, building upon the success of the previous interventions, with the support of local businesses and communities. They allow ideas to be tested and through a combination of temporary and more permanent solutions to gradually and responsively reposition the uses, activities and multi-functional spaces.

It will be important to ensure that the High Street is transformed alongside other areas of the town likely to receive investment and improvement (i.e St. Andrew’s Shopping Centre).

High Street Transformation – temporary uses

  • Introduce temporary seating spaces, grow spaces and bike storage, occupying several parallel parking areas along High Street –Droitwich Spa Park-lets. These will immediately provide opportunities to relax, sit and spend longer within the Town Centre. These can be designed and built with the input from local community groups.
  • High Street management programme to tidy up and make shop signage consistent.
  • Temporary street closures to allow for Makers Markets and Cultural Events

High Street Transformation –Step 2 –Selective Change

  • Introduce a greater number of park-lets along High Street to further increase opportunities to relax and dwell.
  • Identifying selective areas to introduce footway buildout and raised tables to calm vehicle movement and provide more opportunities for informal pedestrian crossing along the High Street. These will also provide opportunities for bicycle parking along this Active Travel route.
  • Introduce permanent bench seating as well as tree planting and upgraded public realm materials.

High Street Transformation –Step 3 –Moving to pedestrianisation

  • Building upon the success of the previous two steps, step 3 aims to pedestrianise the High Street, creating a space within the Town Centre which allows opportunities to create a more active and vibrant Town Centre.
  • Enhanced public realm materials to create a uniform streetscape with consistent materials, reinforcing the local character and distinctiveness of the High Street and ensuring that High Street reads as a space for people and activity.
  • Introduce permanent seating, tree planting, interpretation signage within spaces vehicles previously occupied.
  • The pedestrianisation of the High Street will create an attractive and vibrant space within the Town Centre, inviting more people to travel through the town by bike or foot, encouraging people to explore and dwell within the town and as a result, encouraging greater levels of expenditure more regularly.
  • Importantly, a transformed pedestrianised High Street would accommodate local access for service vehicles and loading to continue to serve local businesses.

The Spa offer

A key feature of Droitwich Spa is the ‘spa’ element –and this is heightened even more so in 2021 with longer-term trends of health and wellness, particularly appealing to a younger demographic. There is scope to capitalise on the town’s uniqueness and make more of the salt-water lido, the beautiful Green-flag awarded parks, recreational walking/ cycling routes and broadening the leisure offer.

Droitwich Spa Lidooutdoor swimming pool (Droitwich Lido) with a person swimming in it

Droitwich Spa’s lido is highly regarded by both the local community and visitors alike. It has featured in both The Times and Guardian ‘top 10’ lists and is referenced in a new book on Lidos in the UK. It is surrounded by lovely parkland in Lido Park, has a local café and children’s splash area too. Open from May through to September it attracts visitors from across the region. There is the opportunity to broaden the offer here through considering uses for the art deco building, making more of the café, exploring demand for a permanent restaurant, using the Lido within future marketing collateral for the town and improving lighting here and in the adjacent park. Connectivity between the Lido and the Town Centre is important too. The Friends of Droitwich Spa Lido Group aspire to raise the profile of the facility and see its potential as a national Lido Centre and national open swimming Centre to put it on the national map.

Brine Baths

Droitwich Spa is proud of its Spa heritage, dating back to the first official spa created in 1887 as part of the Raven Hotel. Local campaigners are exploring the feasibility of re-opening the brine baths owned by BMI Droitwich Spa Hospital and have secured outline planning consent for a potential alternative location in Lido Park. A future brine bath offer would augment Droitwich Spa’s offer for wellbeing, alongside its green spaces and the Lido. SOBBs Salt and Brine Heritage are looking at restoring this unique Droitwich Spa attraction. They are investigating potential sites where the baths could be located, ownership and operators.

Tourism offer

When considering the wider area in and around Droitwich Spa, there is much to offer tourists –both in terms of the wellness agenda but also in terms of key attractions in and around the town (Churchfields Farm, Aztec Adventure, Jinney Ring Craft Centre, Church of the Sacred Heart and St Catherine of Alexandria). There is potential to introduce more town-centre focused attractions making more of the museum, Norbury Theatre, heritage trails through the town, a curated events programme and the opportunity to make Droitwich Spa a health and leisure destination. Hotel supply in Droitwich Spa is limited to the 31-bedroom St Andrews Town Hotel so could represent a potential opportunity for a new provider into the market, as an alternative to those already provided along the M5 corridor. Occupancy levels are strong at up to 80%, indicating the potential for a new entrant.

Additional development sites

Some sites provide development opportunities but ownership rights and other issues mean they are considered long-term options, if they become available at all.

They are:

  • Fire station and Norbury House car parking
  • Carriage Co Car Sales corner site
  • Droitwich Spa Library (internal reconfiguration)
  • Covercroft site
  • Elite Car Wash/Just for Pets site
  • Private car park along Heritage Way
  • Ricketts Lane Short Stay Car Park
  • St Andrew’s Road Car Parks

Key gateway sites

These provide opportunities to improve the attractiveness of key gateways or entrances to the town.

Junction of Bromsgrove Road and Saltway

This 0.7 acre site is located on a busy junction between Bromsgrove Road and Saltway and is currently occupied by a café bar and hand carwash.

Given its location, within close proximity to the primary shopping area, adjacent to Vines Park and occupying a gateway site, there is scope to redevelop this for alternative uses. From a value and market demand perspective, the most viable use is likely to be residential with a preference for an active ground floor use.

Timeline for delivery

There are no fixed timelines for delivery of any of these proposals. The prospectus sets out opportunities for transforming the town centre area and a strategy for doing so.

How and if these proposals get delivered will depend on various things including the willingness of various landowners and access to funding.

That said, we haven’t produced this prospectus so it can sit on a shelf and be ignored. We will be doing all we can, together with our partners, to promote the opportunities available and use our resources, where appropriate, to make things happen.

More information

If you have any questions about the Droitwich Spa Town Centre Prospectus then please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

You can also pdf download a full copy of the Droitwich Spa Town Centre Investment Prospectus. (15.34 MB)