International design competition to renew heart of historic Salisbury
14 August 2008
SALISBURY VISION: pictured with the Market Place in the background is,
clockwise from left, Salisbury District Council (SDC) property manager
Graham Creasey, Salisbury Vision project director Graham Gould, Peter
Edds, head of building and estate at Salisbury Cathedral, Councillor Peter
Edge, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and Tourism at SDC, Claire
Smith, Economic Development Manager at SDC, and Councillor Mary
Douglas, a Cabinet member of Wiltshire County Council (WCC). All five are
on the Salisbury Vision steering group, which consists of officers and
councillors from SDC, WCC, the South West Regional Development Agency
and local business and community partners.
AN INTERNATIONAL design competition to transform the neglected public
heart of historic Salisbury is launched today (Thursday, August 14).
The aim is to create a grand square to rival any in Europe, helping Salisbury
prosper as a destination city competing with other regional centres like
Southampton, Winchester, Basingstoke and Bournemouth.
Promoters hope the successful £3m renaissance of the medieval Market
Place and Guildhall square will provide a vibrant, welcoming place for
residents and visitors while attracting new businesses and benefiting existing
The regeneration will be the first of 24 projects outlined in the Salisbury
Vision, which is a blueprint to shape the sustainable future of the city centre
for the next two decades.
Project members of Salisbury Vision are Salisbury District Council, Wiltshire
County Council and the South West Regional Development Agency.
The design competition launch by the district council and county council is
expected to attract entries from architects and landscape architects across the
It has been organised by the Royal Institute of British Architects, which
regularly holds similar competitions up and down the country to improve the
look and feel of cities and towns.
Councillor Peter Edge, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development and
Tourism at Salisbury District Council, said the winning design would play a
crucial role in helping the city prosper and grow.
He said: “The aim is to create a grand square of the highest quality and
design, a beautiful cosmopolitan space within the core of our medieval city
where families and friends can linger in inspirational surroundings.
“This regeneration is long overdue as the Market Place and Guildhall square
have been neglected for years, with a shabby feel on non-market days and
woefully under utilised.
“Worse, one of Western Europe’s largest medieval public spaces is home to
69 car parking spaces, a decision made in an environmentally indifferent era
when the needs of the motor vehicle were given priority over pedestrians.
“What we envisage is a European-style café culture, with the medieval setting
complemented by sensitive landscaping.
“Recent research shows that high-quality public realm improvements can lead
to a significant and measureable positive impact on the local economy.
“Salisbury simply cannot afford to stand still if it is to compete successfully
with other destination cities and towns like Southampton, Winchester,
Basingstoke and Bournemouth.
"To critics of change, we would argue strongly that the renaissance of the two
squares should increase visitor numbers and spend, as well as attracting
private sector investment that would create new jobs. It would also boost civic
“We have been encouraged by the superb response during Salisbury Vision’s
public consultation exercise, with nearly 80 per cent of people supporting or
strongly supporting the long-term objectives of Salisbury Vision.”
Councillor Edge added: “It must be stressed that the Charter Market will
continue to trade as normal on Tuesdays and Saturdays, as it has done for
nearly 800 years.”
Mary Douglas, Cabinet Member for Culture at Wiltshire County Council, said:
“This is a huge opportunity and also a huge challenge for designers to come
up with an affordable design that can be built within the budget available and
that delivers the ambitions of the project in a way that supports local
businesses - who are at the heart of the future commercial success of our city.
A tall order indeed and I look forward to designers rising to this challenge.”
Pete Manley, Acting Enterprise Manager of Wiltshire & Swindon South West
Regional Development Agency, said: “The renaissance of the city's Market
Place forms an integral part of a significant visioning exercise for the future of
Salisbury, supported by the South West of England Regional Development
The winning consultant will also be asked to develop a public realm strategy
for the city centre which will act as a guide and master plan for all public realm
The Salisbury Vision contains a number of important public realm projects,
including the enhancement of the city’s medieval chequers.
Once completed, the Market Place and Guildhall Square will act as a catalyst
for development and for the delivery of the overall aims of the Salisbury
The budget for the scheme is £3m, split between the district and county
According to Salisbury Vision, work on the winning design could begin during
the second half of 2009.
Design competition timetable
Selection will take the form of a two-stage process, with stage one seeking
expressions of interest by September 16, 2008.
A shortlist of up to six teams will be drawn up by a judging panel made up of
skilled practitioners and key interest groups.
The concept designs will be exhibited in public during January 2009, with
residents and businesses invited to share their thoughts and views.
The winning design will be announced on February 26, subject to ratification
by the district council’s Cabinet.
More information on the Salisbury Vision, and the competition brief,
can be found by clicking on to www.salisbury.gov.uk/vision