‘Super high street’ plan to boost trade

CAPTAIN OF RETAIL INDUSTRY: Mary Portas plans to pilot business success. Photo contributed.
CAPTAIN OF RETAIL INDUSTRY: Mary Portas plans to pilot business success. Photo contributed.

BUXTON’S bid to become a Portas Pilot Town has now been submitted and successful bidders are expected to be announced in May.

The Pilot Group, made up of Vision Buxton, Buxton Civic Association, The Buxton Group, Churches Together, Buxton Against Tesco and Transition Buxton, are bidding for Buxton to become one of 12 “Portas Pilots” - towns which will share a pot of £1 million to test out some of the recommendations made by TV retail expert Mary Portas in a government commissioned report aimed at reviving the country’s high streets and town centres.

Janet Miller, of the Pilot Group, said: “An unprecedented number and cross section of groups and individuals came together to support and produce Buxton’s bid.

“Thank you to all those who got involved and to everyone who pledged their support – the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”

The vision described in the bid looks to bring the whole town together with one coherent ‘Main Street’ linking Spring Gardens to High Street through the Crescent, Hall Bank and the Slopes and the Market Place, making the town centre “a single rewarding place to be” and linking the retail elements with the cultural and architectural highlights.

The Pilot Group, which is supported by High Peak Borough Council and the University of Derby have formed a pilot ‘Town Team’ which will continue to develop ideas whilst the Portas application is being considered.

Activities the Town Team could be involved in include engaging with landlords to seek short term use of empty premises for new businesses through to funding business training and street trading opportunities for local people, encouraging street music, theatre and food and even a high-tech ‘Augmented Reality’ tour for smart phone users.

Better signs, route marking and interpretation of Buxton’s history are also seen as important and funding has been requested for early stage work on developing a comprehensive and contemporary scheme.

‘Match funding’ has been pledged for certain elements of the plan by High Peak Borough Council and by Vision Buxton.

The full bid, and a video to accompany it, is available at www.buxtontownteam.org.uk where comments can also be left. Alternatively, suggestions and ideas can also be emailed to pilotgroup@buxtontownteam.org.uk.