The City Centre and High Streets Project Manager introduced the report and shared a presentation on the initial findings from the recent City Centre & High Streets recovery survey which closed on Monday 8th November:
· Overall, there were 2463 responses to the survey.
· Shopping was the main reason for visiting high streets followed by leisure/social.
· Walking was the main form of travel to high streets.
· Most people visit their local high street 2-3 times a week.
· Most people visit for up to 30 mins.
· Overall dissatisfaction for high streets around appearance, shops & services, and events & cultural activities.
· Vacant Property Grant Scheme has been launched.
· The team will fully analyse, prepare, and share plans for further engagement in December 21/January 22.
A Member expressed concerned around levels of engagement in some areas specifically, Stapleton Road, and asked if the team were engaging with Neighbourhoods and Communities officers. The High Streets Project Manager advised that the Street Team had visited every high street at least twice and that they had received 100 survey responses from Stapleton Road. Also, that they were working with the Neighbourhoods and Communities team to help with the delivery of information and confirmed that all businesses were hand delivered a copy of the survey.
Members asked if data was collected on equalities in the responses to the survey and were advised that this was an initial selection of data as the survey had only recently closed but the full results would be shared when available.
A Member noted that the deadline of the 30th November 2021 for applications for the Welcome Back Fund may make it difficult for people to apply and asked if there was any way extending it.
ACTION: Officers to look into the possibility of extending the deadline for Welcome Back Fund applications.
There were concerns around the number of business and commercial properties recorded as vacant as it was thought there were more than noted on the list provided for some high streets. Also, around the types of businesses in different high streets; some would require more funding specifically smaller high streets and those that have lots of VCSEs/charity shops. The Head of Economic Development noted that part of the engagement stage was to speak with businesses and communities and account for their needs in that particular area.
Members raised that only a proportion of the funding allocation for the programme was noted in the report (paragraph 2.9) showing the high street breakdown and asked where the rest of the funding was going to be allocated. The City Centre and High Streets Project Manager noted that a more detailed breakdown would be shared with members after the meeting but advised that the remaining funding would go towards supporting the Vacant Commercial Property Grant Scheme, the City Centre and to fund the Arts & Development Officer who is supporting the project.
ACTION: Officers to provide a more detailed breakdown of the remining funding allocation.
Members asked how the project is integrating with Liveable Neighbourhoods Strategy and were advised that a colleague from the Transport Team sits on the City Centre & High Streets Recovery Programme Board which oversees the project. Members suggested that representatives from transport groups should be involved in those conversations too.