The beating heart of our communities
Our towns and high streets lie at the centre of our communities and local economies - creating jobs, nurturing small businesses and injecting millions of pounds into our local economy.
But the way we shop and the way that communities use their high streets is changing: we’re shopping more online, making fewer big shopping trips and shopping ‘little and more often’. This changes the nature of what makes a high street successful. Our new community support officers will work with our local shops and small business - and town centre managers where they exist - to help both the high streets and council policy adapt as necessary to ensure that our towns are fit for the future.
We are committed to helping local high streets evolve and adapt to these changes. We want to encourage vibrant town centres where people live, shop, use services, and spend their leisure time. We already see that activity hours are changing so that they better meet the needs of the community, while some retail shops are replaced by coffee shops and wine bars. These are key to our plan to ensure wide and varied choice in our town centres - while maintaining the shopping experience.
Consumers are changing what they want from their local high street: there is an increased importance on the overall ‘experience’ of high street shopping. People want local high streets to provide convenience, a sense of community and to add value through services not offered online.
A role for planning policy
Evidence shows that high streets with a wide choice alongside well designed and planned residential and office space are more resilient to these changes and are adapting more successfully. As part of our plan to make planning work for everybody, we need to consider our shops and small businesses, and carefully balance their needs with those of consumers.
Strong local leadership is needed to support effective regeneration, reconfiguring space, increasing the number of homes for young and old alike, encouraging more workspaces and reducing congestion with new infrastructure. Active management of change of use of retail units and working with the county council to ensure reinstatement of roads promptly to full use after roadworks can also support vibrant town centres
Parking the issue
Well-designed parking policy can help the high street tremendously, whereas a poorly designed policy can cause untold damage. We will work with businesses to create bespoke parking policy for each high street and town centre according to need. In doing so, we can support our high streets in their quest for sustainability.
We will work with the county council to ensure that our off street parking offer complements their on street parking, and with orivate car parks to ensure that the needs of the high streets are covered.
We will offer at least one hour free parking in a location in each town or population centre that we have off street parking.