Businesses plan to make city
an attraction

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Wakefield is to benefit from a new high street regeneration programme that could help transform the city.

Bosses from Marks & Spencer, Santander, Greggs and Boots met for the first time at Wakefield One on Wednesday to discuss ways to boost trade and regenerate the city centre.

They started working on an action plan, which they hope will increase footfall, reduce vacant properties and help create new jobs.

Their ideas included having more businesses involved in city centre events, creating better links between Trinity Walk and The Ridings Shopping Centre and helping to reduce unemployment levels.

Businesses are also being urged to follow @Wakefieldhhs1 on Twitter to promote the high street.

The meeting followed the announcement Wakefield was one of 34 cities or towns selected for the Healthy High Streets programme, which is backed by some of the UK’s biggest high street brands.

And Alison Burnley, of Marks & Spencer, said although discussions were at an early stage, she was confident the scheme would help make the city centre a tourist attraction.

She said: “Wakefield is a great city and we want to promote what is here.

“It was our first meeting to pull together different ideas that would help make an action plan.

“We walked around the city centre and looked at its strengths and weaknesses, and talked about different ways we could get people to come and stay in Wakefield.”

More details about the action plan and what goals businesses will be working towards are expected to be unveiled at a meeting next month.

Santander branch director Natalie Huntington said: “We have had some really positive ideas and over the next few months we will keep meeting to work on the plans.”

The Healthy High Streets programme was first launched in June 2014.

It was designed to increase footfall by 10 per cent, reduce the number of vacant properties by 20 per cent and help create new jobs in 100 cities and towns over the next three years.

A total of 67 towns have been selected for the programme and another 33 will be announced next year.

In its first year, the scheme has brought resources worth £9m from its corporate partners into high streets.

Peter Donohoe, of the Healthy High Streets programme, said: “One of the most powerful ways to make an impact in communities is by creating high streets that are vibrant places to live, work and do business.

“It has been heartening to see the practical difference that business-led action can make on high streets in just one year.

“While there is much be proud of we also know there is more work to be done.”

To find out more about the programme log onto www.bitc.org.uk/healthyhighstreets.