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Monday, 22 September 2014

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Portas bid: What do YOU want for Whitehaven?

WHITEHAVEN is fast moving towards its bid to become one of only 12 Portas pilot towns in England - and your thoughts are vital to the process.

The deadline for submitting an outline bid is only four weeks away and the first key step has been the formation of a Town Team to drive the initiative.

Retail guru Mary Portas, who has won government backing for her ideas to tackle high street decline, called for the teams to be set up and they are expected to be business-led and provide a vision for their town centres. Twelve towns will get up to £100,000 in grants to help achieve their aims.

Around 30 interested people met at Whitehaven Civic Hall on Tuesday night to discuss the opportunity. It was agreed that the scheme should concentrate on King Street and look at ways of improving its retail and social offer.

It was accepted that, although competition would be stiff, Whitehaven already ticked many boxes in the criteria for the bid and would stand as good a chance as any. (It is believed there have already been seven expressions of interest from towns in Cumbria alone, including Maryport.)

Currently there are 189 shops occupied in Whitehaven, 68 per cent of which are occupied by independent retailers and 32 per cent by national chains. There are 28 vacant properties.

There was a need to look after existing businesses and provide opportunities for new fledgling businesses. More quality independent shops were desirable, the bi-weekly market needed revived and other reasons to visit King Street created.

It was agreed the Town Team should comprise nine people, with five members being from the business community (representatives of the Chamber of Trade, Enterprise Whitehaven, Federation of Small Businesses, Whitehaven Development Group, The Whitehaven News) and others drawn from the council, the Harbour Commissioners, tourism and culture, and Lakes College. Other groups such as the Marketing Group, Whitehaven Partnership, the Heritage Group and the Youth Forum could act in an advisory capacity.

Part of the submission will be a supporting video setting out why Whitehaven should be chosen.

Portas is looking for “areas with a transformational vision for their high street and the backing to make it a reality’’. Strong support from the local community will also have to be demonstrated.

Those at the meeting felt that whether or not the Portas bid was successful, the impetus it had provided in bringing together the business community and the will to bring about local improvement should be continued.

  • What innovative ideas do you think should be considered as part of the Portas bid? Share your comments below or email them HERE  and we will forward them on.
Have your say

Turn Dixon's into 'House of Frazer'. there are far too many charity shops, cheap pound shops, and kebab shops. knock the old bus shelters down and build something that people will be attracted to. improve the multi story car park. most horrid looking building I've seen, smells like urine and don't want to walk on the dirty sticky floor never mind touch anything with my hands. revamp the whole town like Workington got a revamp!!

Posted by Becks on 21 March 2012 at 15:12

The first things people see when arriving and last things when leaving are the bus depots. They must be demolished asap. one idea to re-use the site on the harbour side of the road would be a scaled down leisure complex along the lines of The Gate in Newcastle, which holds restaurants, bars and a good cinema, this might bring in fellow Cumbrians as well as other tourists but MOST IMPORTANTLY, will serve the residents of all ages in Whitehaven well.

Posted by Robbie on 15 March 2012 at 10:11

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