More bars, restaurants and culture for Ashfield's town centres?

Sutton town centre.
Sutton town centre.

More cafes, restaurants and bars could make their way to Ashfield's high streets as part of the new government investment scheme.

Council bosses in the district have said that making Ashfield a "leisure destination of choice" will be an important factor in finding success for the new £50 million Towns Fund.

It was revealed in September that both Sutton and Kirkby will receive £25 million each to help "regenerate" the town centres, and councillors say they "want to make sure it is done right".

Debating the 'state of Ashfield' on October 24, they pressed a desire to "move away from traditional retail" in an age where online shopping and out-of-town developments are "prominent".

And in a question-and-answer session with member, Carol Cooper-Smith, interim chief executive said that both Sutton and Kirkby need a more "eclectic mix" of facilities and a better evening economy.

She said: "Culture is definitely something that we want to major on in our town centres.

"Sutton has got some fantastic architecture in its town centre if you look up to the first floor, and we want to repurpose it in terms of other uses.

"Arts and culture are two of the many uses we want to look at. Working with partners such as the arts council and the county council can make this happen, but we can't do it on our own.

"We see both Sutton and Kirkby town centres needing a much more eclectic mix of services and facilities to bring people in.

"Everyone shops online and goes to our out-of-town retailers, that cat is out of the bag, and we have to look at the town centres and do something different.

"One thing we're particularly keen on with the Future High Streets Fund is looking at the evening economy in Sutton.

"It's practically dead by five o'clock and we need to give people choice, but we need the private sector to come in behind us because we can't provide everything for everybody."

Councillor Tom Hollis, deputy council leader and cabinet member for health and leisure, agreed that it is a "real opportunity" to "uplift" the district.

He said: "I really see that as great for uplifting both Kirkby and Sutton to make them as good as places like Hucknall and Nottingham.

"It's about making sure they are vibrant places. Particularly with our mining heritage, we have a real opportunity to open up our doors and bring people into the towns."