Central Bedfordshire Council news and press releases

Give your feedback on local high street shops and services

Tuesday, 9 July 2019

We're out talking to residents, visitors and businesses about local shops and services as part of a survey to benchmark 11 of our major town centres. The surveys will help us better understand how our local town centres are changing, as well as identifying any issues or opportunities that may arise from this.

The benchmarking report will be used to compare how our local towns are performing against similar locations elsewhere in the country. It will look at the types and mix of retail and services found on local high streets, and the number of people using town centres and their local car parks. We're also looking to get a better understanding of the state of the current local retail market and anticipate future demand from retailers and others for commercial space in the town centre. Local residents will also be able to give their views and comments via online surveys, and local businesses will be provided with a trading focused survey to complete.

Over the last few years, we've invested up to £4 million in our local town centres, as part of our Market Town Regeneration Fund. This investment has seen grants for 21 new shopfronts in seven towns, whilst also providing funding and support for other projects, such as street-cleaning machines, splash parks, more car parking spaces, community bandstands, and improved local signage and events information.

Councillor Kevin Collins, our Executive Member for Planning and Regeneration, said: "Our town centres need to be fit for the future. The surveys are a really good opportunity for business and residents to have their say about what they like about their town centres, and what they feel could be better.

"Few of us could have not noticed that town centres have seen several big-name shops close nationally. Other retailers are scaling back or thinking very carefully where about where they locate their premises. Commentators are putting this down to a shift from physical shopping to the convenience of big online outlets.

"While we as a council are unable to control national chains from closing down and people from choosing to shop online, we are doing our utmost to regenerate our other local towns, to make them attractive places for residents and visitors. These latest benchmarking surveys will help provide us with data that will help us, the local town councils and local communities better understand the dynamics in our local market towns, and provide ideas for improving them and looking to the future."

The online surveys are being overseen by an external organisation, called People and Places.

The online survey is live until the end of July. A report will be produced for the towns in early autumn.

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