Town launches Portas-style review
PEOPLE in Nailsea are being urged to have their say on how the town can be regenerated over future decades.
Nailsea Chamber of Trade and Commerce has appointed research group AMT-i to carry out a survey on the town to see what action can be taken to bolster trade in light of the current economic downturn.
The move follows concerns by business leaders that 10 per cent of shop units in the town are currently lying vacant – including some along the main high street.
Traders are following in the footsteps of TV retail guru Mary Portas who carried out a Government- backed review last year aimed at halting the decline of the high street across the UK.
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Mrs Portas, the star of TV show Mary Queen of Shops, published her report in December in which she called for high streets to be managed through new "town teams" who would be responsible for developing businesses in the area.
AMT-i is a professional consultancy, specialising in town vitality, viability and sustainable development and focuses mostly on small market towns.
Over the last week the firm has been assessing the town's retail units, rents, footfall, car parking, business confidence, shopper origin and town centre user views.
AMT-i senior consultant Mike King also asked the business community for its views while spending two days in the town collecting data.
Mr King said: "Once the town centre has been fully reviewed we will provide Nailsea with a comprehensive report highlighting the strengths and weaknesses, improvements required and how the town fares against other towns of a similar type across England and Wales.
"In the past, benchmarking reports have been used to plan and develop regeneration initiatives, measure the impact of developments and as an evidence base to attract funding.
"We would like to capture the views of both Nailsea town centre users and non-users to provide a detailed and balanced picture."
The £2,000 cost of the survey is being shared between the chamber, Nailsea Town Council and Crown Glass Shopping Centre which owns half the shops in the town.
Businesses and councillors have already set up "Team Nailsea" to work towards the regeneration of its high street and fight off moves by North Somerset Council to introduce parking charges in the town.
It is also planned to encourage chambers in Portishead and Clevedon to carry out a similar survey to build up a retail picture of the area.
Two different questionnaires – one for businesses and one for residents – have been launched and people are being urged to fill them in on the town council's website before May 30.
Nailsea Town Council clerk Ian Morrell said: "What we want to know is why people come to Nailsea and shop and why they choose to set up business here. We are also keen to know what deters people from visiting or operating from the town.
"If people want to defend the things they value or improve the facilities it is important they tell us in this survey so we can do something about it."
The surveys are available at www. nailseatowncouncil.gov.uk/yoursay.