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Look at Romsey

A town design statement for Romsey

Project Overview


The Hundred leading eastwards from the Market Place
The Hundred leading eastwards from the Market Place

Settlement Pattern

The historic core of the town has its focus in the Market Place which was established outside the gates of the nunnery. Roads led away from the Market Place to the north, east and south and these form the skeleton of the old town. Although some lesser roads spur off these, it is only in the last thirty years that there has been much development of the backland in the town centre.

The modern routes of the main roads leading to the town were laid down in the eighteenth century, and lesser roads were created on the eastern side of town in the early nineteenth century. Together with routes built to join the town to the railway station, these roads form the framework around which the twentieth century expansion took place.

Terraced housing in Cherville Street
Terraced housing in Cherville Street
Within the town centre, there is fairly continuous building along the street frontages and the older houses mostly lack front gardens. Housing consists primarily of small terraces, semi-detached houses or detached houses and a few bungalows.


One of the charms of the town centre is the way in which the streets twist about. By walking only a few yards, one is presented with a quite different vista. In those streets where houses have been demolished and new buildings set back, this feature has been reduced. Street widening in Cherville Street
Street widening in Cherville Street

After 1945 houses were mostly built in estates. These differ in their layout, reflecting the fashion of the time when they were built. Thus Whitenap has many cul de sacs with no pedestrian access at their closed ends, unlike Halterworth where there are plenty of footpaths joining the different parts of the estate. Several later developments have been created as cul-de-sacs where pedestrians cannot walk through to other places; a permeability expected of a vibrant town.

Woodlands Gardens, where traffic and pedestrians are segregated
Woodlands Gardens, where traffic and pedestrians are segregated
Greater Woodley is a 'Radburn' style estate with traffic and houses separated which results in an irregular layout. The area has many footways that are away from traffic. By contrast, the nearby Upper Cupernham area has no paths away from roads and all the houses line the streets. Most of the estates have some houses that face the main roads, but in places only the fences of back gardens face the roads making them somewhat impersonal.

Parking is perceived as a problem throughout Romsey. Many of the houses in residential areas have garages within their curtilages, although these are often used for storage. Increasing numbers of front gardens are being paved and used for parking. In some parts of the town, separate blocks of garages are provided. Some of these are well designed and attractive but others consist of very basic structures with flat roofs and often in poorly lit areas.

Design Recommendations

Arrow Houses should face streets, and where they have been built turned away, their boundaries should preferably be surrounded with shrubs, so that high fences are not their visible feature.
Arrow Maintain and increase the number of pedestrian routes through each part of the town.
Arrow New developments should preferably allow pedestrians through passage, and not end in cul-de-sacs
Arrow Ensure that groups of garages are appropriately lit


Open and other spaces

Within the town there is a variety of public open spaces. The largest of these is the War Memorial Park with its bowling green and children's playground. War Memorial Park (Rivermead house in the background)
War Memorial Park
(Rivermead house in the background)


King John's Garden seen from Lortemore car park
King John's Garden
seen from Lortemore car park
There are substantial open spaces on either side of the Canal, where people can walk or children play informally. There are smaller open spaces such as the lands around the Abbey church or the formal King John's Garden in the town centre. Many informal greens with and without trees are to be found in the newer parts of Romsey


Nearly every part of Romsey has streams running though it, whether they be substantial braids of the River Test or small streams on the hillsides. These are much valued by the people who live near them or walk alongside them. In particular, the pathways alongside Tadburn Lake and the Canal form major pedestrian routes to the town centre. Both would benefit from greater attention to their upkeep. Tadburn Lake in Tadburn Meadows
Tadburn Lake in Tadburn Meadows

The watercourses fed by the Fishlake are less important as routes. However they are significant in the way in which they appear in many parts of the town, providing attractive glimpses of water within an otherwise urban setting. To the west of the town, the braids of the Test perform a similar function although on a larger scale. These waterways give Romsey a very distinctive character that generally should be more highly valued. The network is complicated and many people are confused by which waterway is which. Some form of identification would help.

Within the town centre there are several public car parks. Some attempt has been made to landscape them usually by planting trees or bushes.

Design Recommendations

Arrow The paths beside the streams need enhancement.
Arrow Romsey could make a feature of its many waterways for the benefit of residents and visitors
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