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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

Geography professor leads town centre research

Published: 15 March 2011

New study to help shape the future of Romsey town centre

The University of Southampton has been appointed by Test Valley Borough Council to undertake a study to help shape future plans for Romsey town centre.

The aim of the study is to investigate how the town centre functions and how its retailing and services are used. This will provide an understanding of why visits to the town centre are made, the extent of visits for multiple purposes, and how the centre is used. The study will also consider the town centre’s current perceived strengths and weaknesses, their impact on people’s behaviour, and the potential for enhancing the trade attracted by the centre.

The University’s retail research team led by Professor Neil Wrigley who will carry out the study, recently published a major study of retail impacts in market towns and district centres in the UK. That study included research on towns of a comparable size to Romsey in south west England, and the Southampton team is acknowledged to have made significant contributions to national planning policy debate on these issues

Professor Wrigley says: “We are delighted to have been selected to work with Test Valley Council on this important study, and the recognition of the impact of our previous research that our selection implies. At a time when town centres in the UK are adjusting in complex, and as yet not fully understood or documented ways to economic crisis, and when the ‘future of the High Street’ is set to become a major policy issue, the research carried out by the University will have considerable implications for Romsey’s future vitality and viability.”

Councillor Martin Hatley, Deputy Leader and Portfolio Holder for Planning and Transport says: “Prior to developing any future plans for the town centre, the Council is wishes to better understand how it currently functions. We are therefore keen to know the views of both the public using its shops and services, and of the businesses running them.”

The results of the study are expected to the published in the autumn and will inform the Council’s future strategy and policies for the town centre.

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