Denbighshire’s town centres are not alone in facing problems engendered by the economic downturn, shifting consumer behaviour, pressure from increased competition, internet shopping, a greater choice in what, where and how customers shop. The picture is not all doom and gloom however. The internet offers new opportunities for existing retailers and for allowing people to work from home instead of commuting out. In an increasingly homogenous world Denbighshire’s independent retailers have a unique offer. Denbighshire towns all have their own unique history, heritage, attractions, environment and story to tell. They have the potential to stand out in an increasingly globalised society.
To capitalise on growth opportunities Denbighshire County Council has developed and secured agreement on a set of actions to guide support for economic growth in town centres. ‘Vibrant & Viable High Streets’ is not an exhaustive list of things the Council will do – actions may change over time and their delivery will almost always involve working with, and in many instances being led by, willing partners. It was developed collaboratively with Town Champions, Town Clerks, and businesses. The actions are grouped under three headings and the prioritised actions under each heading are highlighted below:
Actions to increase Footfall & Spend
‘Without People, Places are just Spaces’. Towns need a mix of residential, leisure and retail that bring people into town centres. Actions are directed at increasing footfall and encouraging/enticing increased linger time and more spend in towns from residents and visitors alike.
Priority action: Test desire for developing Business Improvement Districts.
Priority action: Develop and deliver ‘shop locally’ campaigns.
Actions related to Appearance, Vacant Premises & Public Spaces
Nowadays people do not have to go to towns to shop, therefore the Public Realm has an increasingly important role to play as towns become places people actively choose to go to (or not!). Suggested actions are intended to support existing businesses, and attract new businesses and uses which complement a high quality Town Centre offer.
Priority action: Establish a set of key objectives for Rhyl Town centre to help direct physical improvements that position it for new visitor markets.
Priority action: Develop a ‘Living Over the Shop’ initiative.
Priority action: Develop new Council housing on untidy and under occupied town centre sites and premises.
Actions to improve Local Pride & Business Leadership
The best form of promotion is still ‘word of mouth’ albeit now more often digitally via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. Pride in a town by its residents and businesses and good coordinated business leadership and communication will contribute both to the robustness of the ‘offer; and to the towns’ ability to draw in increased and/or repeat spend.
Priority action: Assist town centre business partnerships to undertake activity which builds group capacity and identifies action to improve collective footfall/spend in town centres.
In addition to the overall benefits of increased footfall and spend, improved appearance, local pride and business leadership, results should include:
- A business led programme of investment
- Improved direction to town centre re-design work
- Increased resident loyalty and spend
- Increased density of population & potential footfall
- Improved business engagement
- Improved return on investment from actions designed to attract footfall & spend