Evesham Town Plan
The Town Plan (published in 2015) was developed following significant and extensive public consultation. The plan states that Evesham’s heritage is a key asset, an important aspect of the town’s character, appeal and potential, and that Evesham has long had a tourism industry. For tourism to assume a higher local profile, the potential of the town to become a destination of choice has to be developed. The town clearly has a number of advantages:
- A collection of important heritage buildings clustered around the site of Evesham Abbey (two churches, Bell Tower, Norman gateway, etc.);
- Almonry Museum;
- St Lawrence’s church (with exhibitions and volunteer stewards);
- Abbey Park;
- Events hosted in the town centre and the Crown Meadow;
- Riverside walks; and
- Local shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants.
The Evesham Abbey gardens will link with these neighbouring heritage sites to enhance the tourism appeal and value of Evesham. Furthermore the location of the Evesham Abbey gardens, between the parish churchyard and the park, adds a link into a chain of attractions stretching from Merstow Green to the riverside. The Town Plan includes a number of items which directly support this programme as detailed in the table below:
The Town Plan
- A high-quality visitor experience centre on the abbey site as a base for events (Town Plan, 5.8 Events)
- Extending and linking the parks better with the town and generally protecting and extending green spaces. Making the town greener, with pleasant, quieter places to sit and spend time also featured (Town Plan, 7.6 Public spaces)
- Revealing and promoting the town’s history and historical heritage (Town Plan, 7.8 Heritage)
- Priority areas for action: Reveal and present Evesham Abbey – for example, with an archaeological dig, or a visitor centre etc. (Town Plan, 7.8 Heritage)
- Develop the ‘Tourism’ proposals to make Evesham a destination of choice (Town Plan, 10.5 Spend Priority areas for action)
- Adopt a Conservation Management Plan for the Evesham Abbey site and promote (Town Plan, 11.6 Heritage Priority areas for action)
- Evesham as a brand ought to be strong, as the name (mainly linked with the Vale) has high recognition across the UK. However, visitors know little about its history, its extensive events programme and the attractions and amenities located in and around the town (Town Plan, 11.5)
- Abbey site presented in a cohesive fashion as a total heritage site. Managed and interpreted for tourists and locals (Town Plan – Appendix)
- Provide tourist facilities (e.g. café, gift shop and picnic tables) in Abbey grounds. Undertake a feasibility study to understand if this idea is viable, if it is agree a proposal and implement it (Town Plan – Appendix, Heritage)
- Religious Tourism making more of the Vision of Our Lady of Evesham – Investigate the invigoration of the traditional June pilgrimage event in conjunction with the Catholic church to attract more pilgrims to Evesham (Town Plan – Appendix, Events)
- Promote Evesham’s USP/create a brand for Evesham: Establish a programme group to commission a branding exercise. The objective to capture all of Evesham’s selling points under a single brand (Town Plan – Appendix, Marketing)
- The nave could be used to host events.
- The nave and cloister will provide pleasant quiet places. The cloister arch links Upper Abbey Park to the cloister garden, while a new gateway could link the parish churchyard with the nave.
- The programme will develop an important part of the ancient centre of the town and make it available to the public. Interpretative panels and exhibits will help promote the town’s history.
- The programme will reveal and present the fabric and layout of Evesham Abbey. The work will include archaeological and archive investigations.
- Developing the Evesham Abbey site as a public amenity will provide a new attraction to the town.
- Key parts of the site require significant repair and restoration and are on the “At Risk” register maintained by English Heritage. The programme will raise funds for the repairs.
- This programme will raise the profile of the town and provide a new amenity and tourist attraction.
- The programme will present the nave and cloister spaces in a cohesive fashion, with planned links to the park and parish churchyard, with interpretative panels and displays to promote and explain the town’s history.
- The programme will provide limited tourist facilities within the Abbey grounds, including benches. The statutory restrictions on developing the site will almost certainly prohibit more substantial developments such as a café or gift shop.
- Developing the site will provide an enclosed space, on the site of the old abbey church, which could be used for religious tourism. Evesham Abbey was a site of pilgrimage for many centuries, a tradition which has continued into the present period with an annual Roman Catholic pilgrimage to Evesham.
- This programme combines two important features of Evesham’s appeal: namely, heritage and growing. Moreover, this site directly links the ancient sacred history of the Abbey to the modern market town. Clearly this programme provides an amenity which might embody and programme an Evesham unique selling point (USP).