Berwick high street issues to be discussed

'˜Something needs to be done soon' to help high streets like Berwick's which appear to be in decline.

Friday, 18th May 2018, 08:25 am
Updated Wednesday, 16th May 2018, 10:30 am
Berwick town centre.

Coun Catherine Seymour, member for Berwick North on Northumberland County Council, was speaking following a government committee’s launch of a new inquiry into the future of England’s high streets and town centres.

“I welcome this inquiry as there is concern throughout the land that retailers in our towns are suffering,” she said.

“Berwick’s historic town centre has been struggling for quite a few years already.

“Amongst some good retail there are just too many empty and run-down premises. Just recently we have lost more shops to include a butchers and flower shop. Therefore, something needs to be done soon to rectify the situation.”

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The issue will be discussed when the Berwick Regeneration Commission meets in the town hall on Tuesday at 3pm.

Coun Seymour added: “Some forward planning for the future of our high street is needed and I wish to highlight this along with Berwick county councillors to work towards developing a town centre strategy that other towns are in the process of doing to contribute to the local community and economy.

“Along with shop premises providing goods needed for locals and tourists, the empty floors above these shops would work well for needed accommodation in the town. This would compliment the many heritage assets that we are priviledged to steward.”

The inquiry, backed by the Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee, will assess the future role of the high street and town centre in 2030 and its contribution to the local community and economy.

In evaluating the impact of the town centre on the health, cohesion and cultural life of the local community, the inquiry will also look into how local councils are forward-planning for the future of their high streets.

This future planning will involve the taking into account of local council planning, licensing and tax raising to revitalise local shopping areas.

Committee chairman Clive Betts said: “Our high streets and town centres have an important social, civic and cultural place in our society. But many of our high streets are now struggling, facing a range of challenges including the threat posed by online retailers. Indeed, changing trends and behaviours in recent decades – driven by a range of economic, demographic, social and technological factors – have affected the prosperity and vibrancy of our high streets.”

The public can tweet their views and pictures of their high street on #myhighstreetmatters to @CommonsHCLG