Thursday, October 1, 2015

News: Recognition for Rotherham's regeneration


Rotherham has been named as one of the top three town centres in the Great British High Streets Awards, a Government-backed competition to find and celebrate the nation's best high streets.

The competition is run by the Future High Street Forum, which brings together leaders across retail, property and business to advise the Government on the challenges facing high streets and helps to develop practical policies to enable town centres to adapt and change. It was established to help accelerate the programme of local mentoring established in response to the Portas review.

The forum created the awards to "recognise the real strides that some high streets are making, and the incredible diversity and services they provide to their local community."

21 finalists across the competition's seven categories now have the chance to impress an expert judging panel and battle it out in the public vote to be crowned Britain's best.

Rotherham has been named in the "Town Centre" category alongside Altrincham and Tamworth.

Winners in each category will get a share of a prize pot worth £80,000, which includes expert training and tailor-made tips from Google's training taskforce for one hundred of their shops, bars and restaurants.

The regeneration of Rotherham's high street began before, and has been extended by, the Portas Pilot initiative. This includes the business and financial support to independent retailers and the use of pop-up shops and the Makers Emporium. It missed out last time but this year the entry will have included the impressive heritage-led regeneration of listed buildings.

13 key properties have been renovated thanks to a total of a £4.7m investment from the Heritage Lottery Fund, Rotherham Council and the property owners. Some of the most prominent are part of the complex of mixed-used retail outlets focusing on listed buildings like The Three Cranes building and former Georgian Town House at 29-29a High Street created by local businessman, Chris Hamby.

Backing the work going on in Rotherham town centre, Mary Portas, said: "I remember so vividly turning up to your town [in 2011] because it was the poster town for how bad things had got. And look what you've achieved. At the heart of that achievement is a real coming together, of the funds, the council understanding the needs of that town, understanding that it is a beautiful historic town - why would people not want to be there?

"Understanding that people want something different so you've created the Makers Emporium and also independent shops so it's not just the chain shops, although we also need those.

"And I remember when Chris Hamby said to me: "I want to invest in this town, it means so much to me. I want to buy that shop but I can't as the bank won't loan me [money]" - so the Council did.

"I think you are just a wonderful example of the power of great vision and people coming together who love their town. Your High Street is the heartbeat, it's a place where commuters meet. And if anyone is thinking of investing, please give more to these people because you have become the poster for me that I brag about how good towns can be."

High Streets Minister Marcus Jones said: "We had a record amount of high-quality entries to this year's competition – testament to the pride local people have and brilliant work being done to boost Britain's high streets.

"The local high street is the life and soul of many towns, villages and cities across the country and these awards are a great opportunity to not only celebrate those that are the best of the best, but also to help others learn their valuable tips for success.

"If you cherish the hard work going on in your local high street, then show your support and get voting."

Between now and November you can cast your vote for Rotherham at the Great British High Street webpage.

Rotherham town centre website

Images: RMBC


Anonymous,  October 5, 2015 at 9:55 AM  

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this report. I know so many people who wouldn't touch Rotherham with a bargepole; me included. The whole borough is filthy with litter. I'm afraid the industrious, decent Rotherham of my 50s/60s childhood is long gone. I suppose one day it'll improve, but I doubt it's done it yet. Winning a prize? Perhaps this is a cynical effort to overturn Rotherham's atrocious, scandalous reputation caused by the abuse scandal. I'm afraid there's too much 'vibrancy' for my liking.

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