Agenda item

Town Centre Improvement Plan Update

An update on the Town Centre Improvement Plan has been enclosed at this agenda item and the Assistant Director – Strategic Growth and Development will be in attendance to answer Members questions on the update provided.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director – Strategic Growth and Development gave a brief update on the Town Centre Improvement Plan where the following key points were raised:

  • Environment, Public Realm & Heritage
    • Worked on developing plans for seating improvements in the town centre
    • Developed a National Lottery Heritage Fund Bid
    • Commissioned Transported to utilise three areas for public art opportunities.
    • Targeted poor-quality properties through enforcement powers.
  • Business, Markets and Economy
    • Conducted a feasibility study for a Business Improvement District (BID)
    • Commissioned a High Street Business advisor to provide 1 to 1 support to high street businesses across the district
    • Ran a social media campaign to promote independent retailers
    • The Economic Development team were working to secure investment and occupiers into empty town centre units.
    • Recruitment of a Markets Manager and Markets Officer
    • £1.2m of Recovery and Growth Grants had been delivered to 147 businesses across the district.
    • Installed a footfall monitor to support funding applications
    • Looked at options for better utilising vacant space above shops.
  • Events, Culture, Promotion and Awareness Raising
    • An expression of interest to the Arts Council had been submitted to establish Ayscoughfee Hall as a National Portfolio Organisation.
    • Worked with Visit Lincolnshire to improve representation of the district on their website.
    • ‘Love Your Local Market Roadshow’ and ‘Spring Into Spalding’ events had been hugely successful.
    • Plans had been finalised for the Pumpkin Festival in October and the Christmas Celebration in November.
  • Travel, Transport and Accessibility
    • Worked with LCC to secure £1.8m in government funding to improve cycle access into the town through a new dedicated cycleway on Pinchbeck Road.
    • Made a case for investment in bus services in and around the town centre.
    • Improvement works had been completed to signalling systems when entering the town centre.

 

Members raised the following points:

 

  • There had been difficulties for some businesses in accessing the recovery and growth grants as they had to be match funded - was there anything in place to help businesses who were unable to match fund?
    • Officers responded to say that the Recovery and Growth scheme had finished but the match funding expected depended on how much funding had been requested. There was now a UK Shared Investment Fund which was focussed on how the Council could develop support for businesses. A flexible approach would be used for the running of the next programme of funding.

 

  • There had been a government announcement stating that Councils could intervene if a shop had remained vacant for more than six months.
    • Officers responded that they were aware of the scheme but did not have any details on how the scheme would work.

 

  • Could above shop accommodation be turned into homes?
    • Officers noted that there was an increasing number of local authorities looking at this option and to encourage owners to bring forward their space for alternative use. Grantham had, for example, received significant government funding to assist with improving their high street and how more varied use of the spaces within their town centre could be achieved.
    • Officers were currently trying to understand what other authorities were doing and what model would work best for our towns and villages.

 

  • The biggest hurdle with above shop accommodation was the practicality of access and it could be difficult to split the upstairs area from the shop below.

 

  • It appeared that the pest control company had had little success in addressing the pigeon problem.
    • Officers confirmed that some positive feedback had been received but they would seek a further update.

 

  • There were issues with members of the Public still feeding the pigeons and it was suggested that a presence may be needed within the town centre to make sure people were behaving correctly.

o   The Chairman responded that other towns often included a funded post within any bids they submitted.

 

Supporting documents: