31st October 2018
We watched with interest this week as the Government announced a number of new plans to reinvigorate high streets.
This chimes with two issues that are part of the ONE Haverhill Partnership Business Plan.
The first links to the MasterPlan for the High Street and the second to our ambition to secure Business Investment District (BID) status for Haverhill Town Centre.Haverhill is no different to any other town centre when it comes to potential threats in the face of changing shopping habits.
Our retailers and other town centre businesses need to adapt to survive and thrive and the regeneration of our historic high street remains a top priority for ONE Haverhill Partnership.
How can we achieve this? Ask 100 businesses or customers or residents and you would end up with a multitude of different answers.
What is consistent is the need to support our local shops and traders to ensure they have a future.
An attractive mixed use town centre – to encourage people to live, work, shop and relax in Haverhill – was a key ingredient of the Haverhill Town Centre Masterplan, making Haverhill a place to live, work and visit and not an empty shell.
This crucial document, led by ONE Haverhill Partnership, is a valuable guide to how the town centre and beyond could be shaped. But, three years after it was adopted by St Edmundsbury Borough Council, the time has come to re-evaluate the Masterplan to make sure it remains fit for purpose in this ever-changing climate.
ONE Haverhill Partnership plans to collaborate in order to stage a workshop to understand latest trends and address new priorities.
The Haverhill BID is another option to give businesses a greater say over how to promote the town to help their businesses thrive.
A task group has been formed and discussions have begun with local businesses to gauge what support there would be for a Business Improvement District in the heart of Haverhill’s town centre.
If adopted, a BID-funded town centre manager could be tasked with forging stronger links with the Town Council and West Suffolk Council to get better engagement and working on ideas arising from our businesses for the good of everyone who lives, works and visits our town.
How a BID might look in Haverhill remains to be seen.
But in other towns, it has worked. Businesses in Lowestoft, for example, have recently voted in favour of renewing their Business Improvement District for a second five-year term.
What was fascinating was that 46% more businesses voted and in total 8 out of 10 were in favour.
Why did all those hard-nosed business owners vote in favour of the second BID term, when they could have saved their cash? There can only be one answer - it worked. Whether we have a BID, or devise other measures to improve our town centre offering, everyone must play a part.
As our name suggests, we are all about working in partnership. Local councils, local councillors, ONE Haverhill Partnership board members, residents, visitors and retailers and other local businesses. We need innovative ideas if the High Street is to flourish. Let’s open the dialogue.