In June 2018 we began to scope the possibility of an alternative way to deliver the best of the #townteam model of support for town centres.
The aim is to try build a model that would work for town centres that have never had a #townteam or town partnership or #BID, or had one but don’t now.
It’s based on the #townteam model we’ve worked on with colleagues in a number of places, including Wantage and Banbury in Oxfordshire, but aims to draw on a wider funding base than has typically provided most of the finances for these initiatives to date.
“More partnership models are needed. These need some national support though. Like @ScotlandsTowns.” Institute of Place Management on Twitter
Our initial pilot is in Abingdon, Oxfordshire – a town that has had a number of partnership models, most recently a BID, which was wound up within its first term.
Activity-wise the aim is to bring the best (most suited) features of town team work including:
- Continue to work with landlords and agents to overcome barriers to empty shops being let (in Abingdon’s case, building on work that has seen the number of empty and available town centre units there fall from 19 in August 2017). Part of this focus is on adding to the current business mix and strengthening its #indie shop core
- Encourage and support landlords/agents to improve the look of empty units while work continues to let them
- Work with the town council and businesses to create activity in Market Place that enhances footfall and extends dwell time (being mindful of the impact on existing businesses and residents)
- Work with councils and businesses to improve the street scene and the look of buildings/shopfronts (incl a possible shopfront grant scheme)
- Work with councils and businesses to tackle parking issues
- Support town centre businesses with social & traditional media by creating new accounts for the project, and encouraging businesses to start/enhance their socmed profile, with training as required. Also develop and share a list of town centre businesses on FaceBook, Twitter, Instagram
- Bring ideas and experiences from town team and place management work to town centre businesses e.g. #MoreThanRetail, space sharing
- Develop a ‘Google My Business’ platform pilot for a group of businesses
- Partnership building to encourage town centre businesses to work together, and to strengthen connections between councils, businesses, our communities, landlords and agents.
Potential funding sources being explored include:
- Businesses that would like to, with a ‘voluntary contribution’
- Town Council
- District Council
- Edge/out-of-town businesses contributing on the rationale of a more vibrant town centre being easier to recruit to
- Developers contributing on the rationale of a more vibrant town centre helping to sell more homes for more, quicker
- Funding from Town Team activity
We’ll further update progress on this pilot as it continues.