Councils are leading the revival of our high streets and town centres. As leaders of place, they are offering a new wave of thinking around what the high street can offer to communities and delivering real local change.
Across the UK - and indeed throughout the world - town and city centres are facing challenges with a decline of traditional retail due to differing shopping habits and the south coast is no different.
Adur and Worthing Councils want to change this and lead the revival. Their vision is for their 'town centres to be brimming with new life, with a winning mix of shopping, restaurants and culture'. They have developed an approach to help breathe new life into their town centres.
As part of their approach the council wants to build more homes to bring hundreds more residents into the centres breathing new life into the areas.
This includes Worthing Borough Council buying a prominent brownfield plot in the heart of the town, then signing a land-pooling deal with government-backed firm LCR to drive a mixed-use development with 250 homes forward. Meanwhile in Shoreham, the council has relocated the civic HQ to a community centre leading to the creation of 170 affordable homes on the former civic centre.
The councils also want to continue supporting and developing cultural life in the centres, giving people more reason to visit. In Worthing, the in-house team who have transformed the town's theatres. In Adur, the council has recently invested in the community-run arts venue to secure its long-term future.
The councils want to encourage the creation of town centre jobs by developing cutting edge office space. This includes a deal with HMRC to bring 900 workers into a new office block in the town centre.
They have also placed importance on the encouragement of independent retailing while also backing national chains. The councils have supported a development scheme involving the Beales in the town which has seen the department store get a reduced size store, new independent outlets created in the vacated space, with homes above.
The councils also see digital development as a key component to the revival. They want to support efforts to bring in high speed public WiFi in the centres to increase connectivity and have partnered with CityFibre to bring full-fibre ultrafast broadband to the town.
“I think town centres need to hum with life and that life won’t only be about retail - our cultural offerings, theatre, music and the rest will go from strength to strength and our restaurants, bars and coffee shops will be thriving."
“I know there is concern about city and town centres at present and many are going through tough times but the key is to have a plan in place to transition and we certainly have that.” - Martin Randall, the Councils’ Director for the Economy