The Borough Council has outlined additional steps it plans to take to help breathe new life into Newcastle town centre.
A number of positive steps have already been taken by the authority to reinvigorate the
retailing heart of Newcastle such as – reductions in some car parking charges, support for
town centre events and the reopening of the Guildhall as a community hub.
Cabinet members have now backed a new report which outlines a further programme of
actions. The two main strands of the new approach are: a ‘Healthy High Street’ – actions to improve trading conditions and economic vibrancy, growing footfall, supporting traders and reinvigorating the town’s market – and ‘Diversification’, converting under-used or redundant sites to residential and non-retail use, including Ryecroft, Lancaster Building and St. George’s Chambers.
Cllr. Simon Tagg, Leader of the Council, said: “We want to revitalise and grow our high
street; we want to encourage niche independent shops and businesses and we need more
people living and working in the town centre. Our Council Plan contains a commitment to ‘A Town Centre for All’ and we have recently signed the Growth Deal with Staffordshire County Council. This report follows on from that. Everyone is a stakeholder in our town centres future. We share the leadership with our partners and by collaborating with the county council, the Business Improvement District, Staffordshire Police, Keele University, fellow councillors, our residents, students and others we can really have some influence over the next few years to improve the town for all. That is what we will do.”
For future governance and delivery the report recommends that appropriate mechanisms
are put in place: A Town Centre Leadership Group – to provide political leadership, set the overall strategic direction and monitor progress. This group would comprise representatives of the Borough Council, Staffordshire County Council, the town centre BID, Keele University and Staffordshire Police.
A Town Centre Taskforce – officer led tasked with delivering on the two work streams of Healthy High Street and Diversification.
A Stakeholder Forum – this group will reflect the importance of the town centre across a
diverse range of stakeholders, from residents, businesses, students, those involved with the night-time economy of the town and transportation etc.
In addition to this, research will be carried out on parking patterns in the town centre:
frequency, time spent, purpose and customer satisfaction. This will inform a new Parking
Strategy to be outlined later this year.
The two work streams identified will allow the Council and its partners the ability to focus on both long-term and short-term interventions to try and arrest and reverse the decline of the town centre.
Cllr. Tagg added: “This is the first report, a teeing-up of ideas if you like. We are already
working on new initiatives for our historic market in Newcastle and now we are extending
our thinking to Newcastle town centre itself.
“Further work will follow, including a prospectus for the town centre and a programme of
actions to reinvigorate Kidsgrove town centre as well, working with our partners there – they have not been forgotten.”