Published on 10th December 2021

Artist impression of Clarence Fountain design, showing a wide view of the area looking from the Boots store

Work to create a newly designed ‘pocket park’, in the centre of Cheltenham, will begin in the new year.

  • New places to sit, relax and play for residents and visitors
  • Boost to nature in the town centre, with removal of artificial grass
  • Accessible design will improve the areas for disabled people

Work to create a newly designed ‘pocket park’, in the centre of Cheltenham, will begin in the new year. Subject to approval at cabinet later this month, the design for the new space at Clarence Fountain will give shoppers and visitors a much improved, accessible experience in an area which has been a focal point for decades.

Following Gloucestershire County Council’s decision to re-open the junction of Clarence Street and High Street (previously referred to as Boots Corner) to all traffic following the trial temporary closure, Cheltenham Borough Council has led and invested in the development of more attractive and sustainable permanent improvements to the plinth surrounding the fountain.

The plinth had temporary seating and artificial grass installed as part of the trial closure. While these measures have successfully enabled the plinth to be well used by residents and visitors alike, the council has always intended to create and deliver a more permanent, attractive, green space for everyone to enjoy.

The council’s proposed upgrades will include the addition of planting and trees to create a ‘pocket park’ which will encourage biodiversity and improve air quality. The design also includes improved seating, space for wheelchairs to make the area more inclusive, as well as a more attractive and durable resin bound finish with steel skirt.

Councillor Max Wilkinson, cabinet member for climate emergency said:  “This new pocket park will make a massive difference to the town centre making the area greener and more attractive, with places for people to sit.

“We’ve listened to what people have said about the artificial grass. It was only ever a temporary thing and I’m pleased that we can now replace it with something better for the environment and create a space that’s inclusive for wheelchair users too.

“This is an important step as we focus on continued town centre regeneration – especially following the difficulties that the pandemic has brought.

“We remain committed to ensuring that Cheltenham punches above its weight and continues to attract investment – even though we are doing well compared to a lot of other places, we know there’s a lot more work to be done.’’

Watch our short film with Councillor Max Wilkinson talking about the plans.

Alex Rose, chair of Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) and managing director of Beards added:  ‘’As chair of Cheltenham BID and a local business owner myself, I’m really glad to see Cheltenham Borough Council investing further in updating the high street. Our family have been trading in Cheltenham for nearly 220 years so we’ve seen Cheltenham change significantly over the years.

‘’The temporary solution has been a good trial and whilst not perfect, has provided an invaluable opportunity to gain feedback which has clearly helped to inform these new plans. What will now be delivered will not only create a focal point for shoppers, but will also enhance the area for the surrounding businesses.

‘’Boots Corner/Clarence Fountain has always had an element of controversy about how best to make it user friendly for everyone. It’s great to see the Council responding so proactively and investing in Cheltenham with a great design for Clarence Fountain.’’

The enhancements and renovation at the fountain forms part of a wider programme of activity by the council, alongside the work of the Cheltenham Economic Recovery Task Force, which focuses on supporting the town’s economic recovery. This includes a range of support measures for businesses, major new investments in the town including the arrival of big brands, Taco Bell, Decathlon, Mowgli, Brewdog and the Tivoli Cinema and some ‘firsts’ such as the hugely popular big screen and festive ice skating rink at Imperial Gardens.  Add to this, Cheltenham’s ambitions to become the cyber capital of the UK as part of the Golden Valley development, and the summer arrival of the Minster Exchange creating a vibrant town centre quarter, the town’s economy will thrive, creating jobs and even more support towards the high street.

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If approved, the work at Clarence Fountain is expected to begin in February 2022, with completion due by the spring.

Read the full cabinet report.