Council chiefs say many suggestions in a new blueprint for the future of Mansfield’s town centre have already been implemented.
Their comments come after Mansfield MP Sir Alan Meale this week unveiled a report highlighting 50 ways that could boost trade in the town.
Mike Robinson, head of regeneration at Mansfield District Council, said: “The council is committed to regenerating Mansfield town centre, working in close partnership with Mansfield BID, Nottinghamshire County Council and the Local Enterprise Partnership.
“Over recent years vast improvements have been made in the town centre, led by the council and its partners. This year alone has seen the opening of the new £9m bus station and the completion of the £2.4m Queen’s Place retail and office development.”
Mansfield BID manager Sarah Nelson said the organisation has been “very successful” under its remit and successful events include the Mansfield garden and craft festival, which saw over 8,000 people attend over two days, and the summer beach where footfall was up by 4.79 per cent on the previous year.
She said work undertaken includes marketing through publications such as the town centre magazine and website, and offering businesses help in many other ways such as security and the nationally-recognised business crime partnership, alongside the cleansing and maintenance team. Businesses are also given access to better rates on services.
She said: “The BID has recently also raised additional revenue to install FREE Wi-Fi in to the town centre, being the first of its size to do so in the UK.
Sarah said recent Experian reports show Mansfield’s retail ranking has risen from 137 to 112 in the last two years and expenditure has gone up by 7.14 per cent while vacancy rates are below the national average.
She added the report had some thought-provoking ideas and welcomed anything encouraging closer co-operation.
Sir Alan’s ideas include:
Empty shops and landlords:
Spend money printing streetscapes to disguise empty shops on helping struggling or new businesses
Create disincentives to landlords who leave shops vacant - Set up ‘swap-shops’, ‘pop-up galleries’ or creative ventures in empty shops
Remove empty property rate relief
Local businesses and the market:
Provide loans and grants from council reserves for small business start-ups
Prioritise food store development
Tighten planning rules to prevent the town being saturated with charity shops
Cut market stall rent and develop an ‘open’ licence system for stallholders
Create a timetable of specialist and themed markets throughout the year
Open market stalls to promote local services such as allotments
Social environment and street scene:
Improve attractiveness of Market Square along Stockwell Gate and West Gate
Create a children’s play area and creche in the Market Square
Create a cafe culture by expanding outdoor seating and opening hours and encouraging busking, street art etc.
Bring the Town Hall back into use as civic centre and move council offices back to town hall
Regenerate local landmarks such as the Co-op building
Transport and parking:
Introduce free or cheap parking such as allowing an hour free in certain car parks so shoppers can nip into town
Explore a voucher scheme where shoppers can get free parking for spending money in businesses
Develop cycling parks around town centre
Repopulation of town centre:
Develop sites around town centre into a housing area
Encourage quality design to create new owned or private rented homes in the centre of town
Create a funding pot to provide grants for conversion of space over shops
WHAT DO YOU THINK?
Do you have any other ideas to help boost trade in the town? Let us know.