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Introducing Worcestershire

IW Introducing Worcestershire


Worcestershire is a diverse, beautiful and exciting county, with plenty to offer residents, employees, tourists and businesses alike.

Figure IW1: Map of the West Midlands showing the major transport networks

Figure IW1 - LTN
Source: Ordnance Survey, 2011


IW.1 Worcester City

At Worcestershire’s heart is a youthful yet historic city, home to the new £60 million Library and History Centre (opened in 2012). At the side of the River Severn stands the majestic Cathedral, parts of which date back to 1084, while opposite is New Road, the home of Worcestershire County Cricket Club.

The city’s retail offer includes the pedestrianised High Street, the CrownGate and Cathedral Plaza Shopping Centres, a range of independent shops and the new Lowesmoor Centre, while Blackpole and Elgar Retail Parks offer out-of-town shopping.

The city is home to the rapidly expanding University of Worcester, which has a growing reputation for its National Pollen and Aerobiology Research Unit and for developing linkages with local businesses through its highly successful salaried graduate internship scheme and the business school.

There are two railways stations, with regular services to London and Birmingham. To the east of the city, junctions 6 and 7 provide access to the M5 motorway. Close to junction 6 is the Sixways Stadium (home of Worcester Warriors Rugby Club), and site for a new headquarters and training facility for Worcester Bosch.


IW.2 Wychavon

Wychavon is the largest authority by area and population in Worcestershire. Largely rural, with agriculture and tourism as key industries, and commercial and industrial areas offering a range of sites and premises for businesses, it has three main towns; Droitwich Spa, Pershore and Evesham. The pretty Cotswold village of Broadway marks the south eastern corner of the county.

Droitwich Spa is famous as a spa town. Built on the once-prosperous salt industry it now draws visitors to its historic High Street, St Andrews shopping centre and the lido pool.

The £12 million restoration of Droitwich Canals was completed in July 2011, and offers a unique 21 mile cruising ring through the scenic Worcestershire countryside. The town hosts a number of events including the annual Salt Fest, and in 2013 the inaugural Food & Drink Festival took place and was a great success.  Droitwich Spa is just two miles from junction 5 of the M5 and has direct rail links to Worcester and Birmingham making it an excellent location for businesses at one of several business parks, including Stonebridge Cross, one of the county’s premier employment sites.

Pershore’s impressive Abbey sits adjacent to a picturesque Georgian High Street. The market town sits along the River Avon between Evesham and Worcester and has direct rail links to London on the Cotswold line. The town is home to Wychavon District Council and has a number of independent and specialist retailers. Several events take place in the town, including the Plum Festival, which in August 2013 attracted over 20,000 visitors. The festival has now won the Worcestershire Tourism Awards ‘Best Festival’ category for three consecutive years.   The town is also a popular business location, with the Key Tech 7 business park particularly sought after, and a recent planning approval has added a further 5 hectares to this successful location.

Further east along the Avon is Evesham, the centre of the Vale of Evesham, renowned for its orchards and horticultural produce, made possible by the fertile soils. The town hosts festivals throughout the year attracting many visitors to the area. These include the Asparagus Festival celebrating this locally grown national icon from St George’s Day to Mid Summer’s Day, and The Blossom Trail, a 40 mile AA marked route around the countryside associated with numerous events in the surrounding villages.

The town itself has direct rail links to Worcester and London. Paddington Station is just under two hours away, improving cultural and economic links with the capital. The recently refurbished High Street is a focal point for national brands and local markets, and Vale Business Park offers exciting employment opportunities for the district.


IW.3 Malvern Hills

Malvern Hills is a rural district, Edward Elgar’s birthplace and home to the Malvern Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, a protected area of countryside since 1959 with stunning views along the ridge, but especially from the highest point, the Worcestershire beacon.

Malvern Hills has long been associated with inspiration, from innovators like the Victorians who developed the water cures and more recently the Morgan family with their beautiful hand crafted cars, to the ongoing work of the scientists at QinetiQ who have been responsible for some of the most useful new technology of recent times such as early RADAR, Liquid Crystal Flat Panel Displays and the technology in thermal imaging cameras.

The district has substantial natural and built, historical and cultural assets centred on the three thriving district centres of Great Malvern, Tenbury Wells and Upton upon Severn.

There are very few town centres in the UK which can rival the views from Great Malvern’s elevated position. With its direct rail links to Worcester, Birmingham and London and key attractions such as Great Malvern Priory, Malvern Theatres and Priory Park, the town is a very popular tourist destination. Malvern Hills Science Park, adjacent to QinetiQ, is the hub of the district’s thriving high-tech business sector, while the nearby Three Counties Showground is the site of the Three Counties Show amongst numerous other events.

In the north of the district, Tenbury Wells is a small market town with a good selection of local shops and facilities serving the Teme Valley. Found on the River Teme, it is known for its mineral waters and surrounded by open countryside, agricultural land and orchards. While in the south is the town of Upton upon Severn, with a thriving marina and home of several music festivals throughout the year.


IW.4 Wyre Forest

The Wyre Forest District is situated in the north of the county approximately 17 miles south west of Birmingham and covers 19,571 hectares. The area has a ‘triangle’ of three distinctive towns – Kidderminster, the largest of the three towns and still famous for its quality woven carpets, Stourport-on-Severn and Bewdley – both well known tourist destinations. 

In addition to hosting many popular visitor attractions, the District is home to an eclectic mix of businesses including the manufacture of high technology industrial ceramics, wheels for earthmoving vehicles, spectacle and contact lenses as well as construction and IT services.

Kidderminster Town Centre’s retail offer includes three modern shopping centres plus Crossley Retail Park.  Further regeneration of the town centre is a primary aim of the ReWyre Initiative, which hopes to attract circa £300 million of private investment. The accompanying Kidderminster Regeneration Prospectus highlights the town’s challenges and opportunities.  It also outlines how to improve accessibility, regenerate brownfield sites, improve the environment as well as safeguarding existing jobs, creating employment and encouraging entrepreneurship.

Major developments in progress include - a new urban village at Churchfields already providing 300 new homes; the redevelopment of Silverwoods (former British Sugar Site) a 24 hectare mixed use site which also includes over 300 new homes and 12 hectares of employment land.  This also involves the delivery of the Hoobrook Link Road which will link the Stourport Road (A456) and Worcester Road (A449) through the site and improve connectivity for the whole area. In Kidderminster town centre the District Council is working with Henderson Global Investors, the owners of Weavers Wharf, to demolish Crown House and completely revitalise the Bull Ring area by providing a new public space and environment as well as additional retail development.

Stourport-on-Severn, once the busiest inland port after Birmingham, lies at the junction of the Staffordshire and Worcestershire Canal and the River Severn. The town is a popular day visitor destination with many fine Georgian buildings, historic Canal Basins, riverside attractions and a good range of shops, pubs and cafes.   The redevelopment of the Canal Basin and plans to regenerate Bridge Street and the Marina will enhance the town’s offer and stimulate the economy.

The Georgian town of Bewdley is situated on the River Severn and boasts may listed buildings; an award winning Tourist Information Centre; Museum and many new restaurants, cafes, pubs and niche retailers.

Tourism plays a major role in the local economy bringing thousands of tourists into the area each year. Attractions include two Arboretums, the Severn Valley Railway and the West Midland Safari Park which has announced a multi-million pound investment plan to develop its site to include a hotel, water park and conference facility.  A new railway halt, linking the Safari Park to the Severn Valley Railway, is also proposed.


IW.5 Bromsgrove

Bromsgrove is the closest Worcestershire town to Birmingham and has strong links with the city. Its location close to the merging of the M5 and M42 provides for easy access to the motorway network. The town is within four miles of both junction 5 of the M5 to the south, and junction 4 to the north, and is also close to junction 1 of the M42 (eastbound entry and westbound exit only). Bromsgrove has direct rail links to Worcester and Birmingham.

The  district has a very diverse economy with several established business parks, including Aston Fields, Buntsford Hill, Saxon and Harris and more recently Bromsgrove Enterprise Park. The town is home to the Artrix, a theatre, cinema, music and dance venue, and Bromsgrove School, an internationally renowned independent school. The town centre hosts regular markets, including a monthly farmers’ market and retains a traditional atmosphere, with several multinational retailers sitting alongside established independents.

Avoncroft Museum of historic buildings is located in the district as is the Worcester and Birmingham Canal - featuring Tardebigge lock flight,which with 30 locks, is one of the longest in Europe. Close by is Hanbury Hall, an historic country house and the countryside attractions of the Lickey, Clent and Waseley Hills.

Through the Bromsgrove Town Centre Regeneration Programme, the extensive redevelopment of the town is underway, following the completion of a new Health Centre and an application from Sainsbury’s to open a new store on the Birmingham Road. Improvements to transport in and around the town, and to the public realm more generally are also included to improve the appeal of the town for residents, businesses and visitors.


IW.6 Redditch

Formerly, a market town, Redditch was designated as a New Town in 1964 and since then has taken on its modern shape. Redditch’s predominant industry today is manufacturing with the Borough’s firms supplying many of the world’s major markets, including automotive, defence and medical industries.

The town centre includes the Church Green Conservation Area and the Redditch Open Air Market, as well as the Kingfisher Shopping Centre, providing an extensive retail offer.

The central location, with its close proximity to junction 2 of the M42 and direct rail link to Birmingham, and the ease of moving around the town continues to present attractive options for many employers.

Redditch has both a unique natural and built environment that contributes significantly to its distinctiveness. The town benefits from extensive green space, including Arrow Valley Country Park and numerous cultural and historic attractions.

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This page was last reviewed 8 November 2013 at 16:50.
The page is next due for review 7 May 2015.