Future of Tamworth town centre at heart of new campaign

Thursday, 31st January 2019

BUSINESSES, residents and visitors are being asked ‘what’s next?’ for Tamworth town centre as part of a new campaign which is being supported by Tamworth Informed, to explore how it can evolve and grow for the future.

Town centre regeneration is a priority for Tamworth Borough Council and a number of projects and investments are planned to ensure it can keep pace with the changing needs of 21st century visitors and consumers.

The Borough Council say that they are also aiming to bid for a slice of the cash available as part of the Government’s new £675m Future High Streets Fund – and consultation with the public about what improvements are needed is a key part of that.

We need businesses, residents and visitors to the town to come forward with viable, positive ideas about what the town centre should and could offer to ensure it is a thriving, successful place that people want to visit.

Businesses are interested in investing in the Town Centre, particularly in the leisure sector and so as a town, we need to support them.

We recently wrote an article about a new coffee shop, Number 18 Coffee House opening on Lichfield Street and also Dares opening on Silver Street. We have also assisted Star Pubs and Bars in the attempt to find a new tenant for the former Tavern in the Town.

More excitingly, we have also been talking exclusively to a business who is showing interest in the former Silk Kite site – more details on this coming soon.

READ MORE: New venture to open in old Silk Kite site

To launch the ‘Tamworth…What’s Next?’ campaign a new video has been produced which sets out the context for the debate, including what can and can’t be controlled or changed by Tamworth Borough Council, interviews with businesses and an overview of some of the many positive, yet often overlooked, things that Tamworth already has to offer.

As well as seeing the video above, the video can also be viewed via the Tamworth Borough Council Facebook page, or at www.tamworth.gov.uk/tamworth-whats-next, where we have created some new web pages which summarise where we are now, including the answers to some frequently asked questions on topics such as business rates, property rents and car parking charges.

The web pages also include a short survey form asking visitors, residents and businesses to tell us how often they visit the town centre, what would encourage them to visit more frequently and to submit any ideas they have that would help increase footfall.

If people are happy for their ideas to be shared, these will then be put out across Tamworth Borough Council’s Facebook and Twitter channels and will help inform the development of a new town centre strategy and the Future High Streets Fund bid.

The web pages also include useful links for businesses around the various business grants, conservation grants, advice and support that is available.

Sarah Gill from the Peel Hotel and Christopher’s Restaurant who stars in the video

Sarah Gill from the Peel Hotel and Christopher’s Restaurant who stars in the video

Leader of Tamworth Borough Council, Cllr Daniel Cook, who appears in the video, told Tamworth Informed: “Town centre regeneration has and always will be a priority for this council but we really want to focus our efforts on how we can ensure it grows and evolves despite changes in shopping habits and the national retail picture.

“We have to establish a new vision for Tamworth town centre, to identify viable uses that people want and the market can support, we need an evolution of what the town centre is, that is fit for the 21stcentury. We need to define what the town should be offering to ensure it is a thriving and successful place that people want to visit. It could be that it should include more housing, more leisure, a greater variety of food and drink or more artisan retailers, for example.

“We get tired of hearing the same old arguments and misconceptions. The fact is we don’t set the business rates and we only own 18 properties in the town so we are not responsible for the majority of property rents either. We can’t scrap parking charges as they represent 10% of our annual income to our net budget. We are never going to get back the town centre we had 30 years ago – the majority of people don’t want that and the market wouldn’t support it. What we need is to move forward and develop a town centre that is fit for the 21stcentury.

“People often forget all the great things Tamworth does have going for it, such as its rich heritage, Tamworth Castle, an amazing programme of free outdoor events and some wonderful and creative niche businesses, and the video we have produced aims to highlight the position we are starting from and build on that.

“After watching the video and reading the web pages about what we can and can’t do, we’d like to see people getting involved in the debate and giving us their views. These will be fed back into the new town centre vision and strategy that we will be developing. We are already investing into this town centre as a council and we will also be looking at other available funding sources, such as the Future High Streets Fund, to try and pull more money into the area.

“I will also be looking to get interested parties round the table in the near future, and registering your interest via the short ‘submit your idea’ form at www.tamworth.gov.uk/tamworth-whats-next is a good place to start. People can also email a new dedicated email address at towncentre@tamworth.gov.uk.”