Bringing empty shops back to life, increasing footfall through events and festivals, and running a Business Improvement District were just some of the topical issues addressed in an event held in Andover on 16 April 2013.
Hosted by the White Hart Hotel in Bridge Street, thirty-six delegates met to explore how they could improve and enhance the town centres in their areas, led by Action for Market Towns, a membership organisation. They were welcomed by Roger Tetstall, CEO of Test Valley Borough Council (TVBC), who gave a brief introduction to the town and the range of initiatives the Council was supporting to strengthen the Andover town centre.
Policy Manager Alison Eardley took a look at the policy context and the common challenges faced by town centres, and explained the need to ‘rethink’ the town centre. Chris Turner summarised the role of the Winchester BID, from his role as its Chief Executive, and took some questions before AMT's Mike King discussed the importance of ‘knowing your town’ and ‘understanding your town’s offer’ as recommended by the Portas Review, taking a look at how this could be achieved.
Knowing how beneficial it can be for towns to learn from the experience of other towns, delegates also had the opportunity to hear directly from towns who are already implementing the type of initiatives recommended by the Portas Review. First they heard from 'We Are Bedford', an empty shops project which became the forerunner to developing Bedford’s Portas Team Project (Bedford is a Portas Pilot). The team behind the Bedford project are now sharing their learning countrywide. Finally, Stony Stratford described how its Business Association has managed to increase footfall to the town through a series of events and festivals. All agreed that the day had been interesting and informative.
Quote from TVBC:"Test Valley Borough Council were delighted that the recent AMT/County Council Town Teams event was held at The White Hart in Andover because so many of the ideas discussed are either being applied or considered as part of an initiative to strengthen Andover town centre. The Chief Executive welcomed everybody to the event and outlined the challenges and collective response being implemented in Andover
Council Leader Ian Carr attended the conference and appreciated the opportunity to discuss practical initiatives that are working well in similar town centres to Andover across the region. Ian said "I was particularly impressed with the enthusiasm of the town centre managers, the sharing of best practice and support from AMT. We will be looking at the benchmarking in due course but it was a very productive day for all concerned.”
The event was sponsored and partnered by the Economic Development team, Hampshire County Council. Full details can be seen, and presentations downloaded, from this link:
Representatives of fifteen small rural 'market' towns met in Winchester on Wednesday 18 April 2012 to celebrate the official close of the Hampshire Market Towns Project, which has been led by the County Council's Economic Development Office since 2001. The overall aim of the Market Towns Project was to enable local people to retain and enhance the businesses, facilities and services in their town upon which local people rely.
Enthusiastic volunteers from seven of those towns told those present about their achievements over the last decade, some of which had been funded by SEEDA's Small Rural Towns Fund, many by smaller amounts of funding, but all of which had been driven by local volunteers with a love of the place they live.
Examples of their achievements were the refurbishment of an iconic Town Hall; provision of off-street parking for business owners to free up spaces for casual shoppers; youth provision and coordination of the activities of existing voluntary groups; refurbishment and re-opening of a station waiting room in which a small business could operate, and setting up regular markets and events with which to attract larger numbers of people to use the towns.
Other speakers included Stuart Jarvis, Director of Economy, Transport and Environment, who explained the new operating environment that HCC was working within, Liz Bourne from Action for Market Towns on Neighbourhood Planning, and Anne Harrison from Economic Development. She explained that, now the Regional Development Agency, SEEDA, has been wound up, financial support is no longer available to her work as dedicated Market Towns Manager and for project funding, although there would continue to be support, information and guidance on issues related to the economy and the environment for those in the county's market towns.
A full report of the impact of the Hampshire Market Towns Project is in preparation but you can find out more about the Small Rural Towns Programme in the South East from the Evaluation Report, May 2011 2mb
Queries on this project, or concerning any of the issues mentioned on this page, should be sent by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Some villages have carried out Parish Plans, prepared Village and Town Design Statements; they may be involved in Village Design Framework planning with their District Council; or larger communities may wish to carry out a Neighbourhood Plan. Find out more about Community Led Planning in Hampshire
For assistance with Parish Plans, contact the Community Development Workers at Community Action Hampshire, telephone 01962 854971. For assistance with Design Statements and Neighbourhood Planning you will need to get in touch with your district council Planning Department.
The newly passed Localism Act 2011 has introduced new community rights, which should be considered carefully and discussed initially with your local town or parish council.
Anne Harrison, Market Towns Officer