Business group unveils scheme to boost town centre

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Christchurch town centre
Bargates in Christchurch

CAR parking discounts, improving the appearance of empty shops, and encouraging major events are among proposals to revamp Christchurch town centre.

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The Christchurch Business Improvement District (BID) group has unveiled plans which it says could help rejuvenate the town and bring new visitors, benefiting businesses that have been hit by Covid-19.

Among other ideas put forward are projects to encourage investment into the town, more parking spaces, a social media campaign to promote Christchurch, and floral planting or landscaping to make it more attractive.

The BID organisation, which is hoping to go operational next July, would also like to see a visitor website, a form of business-to-business communication, town centre wifi for visitors, and improvements to paving and street furniture.

More town centre events should be promoted with Christmas being an especially important time of year for them to be held.

A BID is a business-led and business-funded body to improve a specific commercial area. Businesses pay a levy and the board is made up of people who represent the area, including community organisations as well as commercial owners.

A spokesman said: “We will be refining the proposed BID projects based on further feedback from businesses over the coming weeks and will be pulling together all of the proposed improvements within a draft business plan which will be subject to further consultation.

“Please therefore get in touch if you think that anything is missing from this initial list of projects.”

The initial Christchurch BID was suspended in March but has now resumed. The ideas are a result of 85 survey responses and feedback at three open events held earlier in the year.

BID has just released the development phase of its plans which it said “could have significant positive benefits for businesses and create a new way of providing support at a crucial time for the High Street”.

Made up of around 300 businesses, BID leaders say it would generate approximately £120,000-£140,000 per year which would also be supplemented by contributions from businesses outside the town centre.

It would operate for five years resulting in around £650,000 of improvements to Christchurch.

According to BID, the survey showed 88% of businesses supported it. It will now refine the proposed projects based on further feedback over the next few weeks.

A draft business plan will be created, and people who think something has been missed from the initial set of proposals are encouraged to get in touch.

Among the groups taking part are Castles Home Hardware, Christchurch library, Simpson, Frettens solicitors, Kimmeridge Fashion, Mathews Shoes, Reign Jewellers, Soho, Studio 56 Hair Salon, The Captains Club, the Christchurch Confectioner & Gin Shop, Waitrose and Yellow Buses.

It is hoped the business plan will be launched in January 2021. There will be a vote with the result announced in April. BID will then begin operating in July 2021.

To find out more visit www.christchurchbid.co.uk.

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5 COMMENTS

  1. Could we have shopping from the smaller shops like we had years ago. Nowhere are curtains, cushions and haberdashery to be seen. Butcher’s. Greengrocers selling local produce etc you would then see an influx of customers.
    We do want to support local produce. Not always online where you can’t really see what you are buying. Make Saxon Square a hub of activity. Brighten and dress the town and they will come. I’m not trying to live in the past but know for many this would work. If need be make the high street pedestrian except for buses and taxis.

  2. Good ideas and to extend those a bit further, noting that realistic prices are a must. Many local residents are retired/widowed/elderly so may have limited resources and needs, i.e requirement for purchasing individual amounts (which stand-alone shops can offer). This as well as attracting visitors is a balancing act.
    I agree with retail outlets as mentioned previously – let’s turn the wheel full circle and make Christchurch a modern bygone era town! Shopkeepers could be encouraged to revamp their premises with a bygone era feel, dressing to fit the age. A great visitor attraction.

    Suggestions also for retail outlets:

    Babies/kiddies swop shop (buy/sell pre-loved clothes and toys) – not charity donations.

    Craft shop selling fabric, haberdashery etc

    Individual fresh produce with accent on local suppliers: fruit/veg/butchers/bakery/dairy

    Bargates is looking sad at the moment so let’s not forget them.

    Parking has to be considered if we are attracting more people.

    Christchurch has a lot to offer with the beautiful quay and Priory we cannot let the history fall into neglect.

    I have no retail knowledge just observational skills as a resident

    • Bring back the Folk festival.what a great event it was back in the 70’s.it attracted people from all over,and brought in a lot of revenue to the town.👍👍🙂

  3. Another thing that needs sorting is the bus services, we are new to the area and live in Bransgore, I tried to stop using our car and caught the bus to Christchurch, when I wanted to return I could not find the correct bus stop, even the two bus drivers I approached could not help me? So I walked back to Wickes and my wife picked me up, I am in my 80’s and now we go to Ringwood nicer small shops and good parking.

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