High street guru believes Adur and Worthing can be Streets Ahead
Released: Friday, 24 May 2019
The town centres of Adur and Worthing have a bright future - that's the view of an internationally-renowned high street expert after visiting the area for a high level conference this week.
Streets Ahead: Pathways to thriving town centres saw leaders from across the area hear local, national and international perspectives on how local communities can help ensure high streets thrive in the future.
The keynote speaker was former Wickes and Focus DIY CEO Bill Grimsey who, after a distinguished career in retail, has led two major reviews into the future of the UK high street.
With retail in decline across the UK, Grimsey predicted that by 2028, 50% of out of town supermarket space will be redundant. He added that he believed 21st Century town centres will not revolve around shops but heritage and community.
After presenting his views to leading representatives from the public, private and third sector, Mr Grimsey said he was impressed with the work already being done in Adur and Worthing to ensure that the area's towns remain attractive places for residents and visitors.
Speaking after the sell out event, Mr Grimsey said:
“There is no doubt we are at the beginning of massive social and economic change which means that the very nature of our town centres are changing.”
“The areas which will respond to this change in the best way will be those which are adaptable, have a bold vision and a strong council driving forward change.”
“I was extremely impressed with the work already being done in Adur and Worthing. There is real ambition from the Councils and the wider community to keep on working together to ensure that their town centres remain vibrant places.”
“I look forward to visiting soon to see how some of the ideas discussed are being put into practice.”
The event at Ropetackle Arts Centre in Shoreham was organised by the Waves Ahead local partnership, led by Adur & Worthing Councils. It was sponsored by the Adur & Worthing Business Partnership.
After the keynote speech from Mr Grimsey, attendees were then invited to design their own high street of the future.
Questions were then posed to a panel including Mr Grimsey; Martin Randall, the Councils' Director for the Economy; and local business owner Lindsay Skene, who is chairman of the Southwick Traders' Association.
Councillor Brian Boggis, Adur District Council's Executive Member for Regeneration, said:
“Town centres remain crucial to the vitality of our communities. While in other areas of the UK these beating heartbeats of communities have shrunk, here in Adur we have taken great care to support our high streets in Southwick, Shoreham and Lancing.”
“We cannot rest on our laurels though and I look forward to working with our excellent local traders and the wider community to start implementing some of the ideas discussed at this event.”
Councillor Kevin Jenkins, Worthing Borough Council's Executive Member for Regeneration, said:
“I want to thank Mr Grimsey and the wider community for contributing towards such an excellent event.”
“Whether we like it or not changes are coming to our town centre. We need to reinvent Worthing to create a living, breathing town with vitality that offers something to everyone - a visitor experience and a retail experience.”
“We have already started to take steps in the right direction, with the Worthing Observation Wheel and a thriving culture offer. But this is just the start and look forward to working with partners across the borough to make sure we fulfil our potential.”
Photo: Bill Grimsey speaking at the Waves Ahead conference in Shoreham
Photo: High street expert Bill Grimsey with Southwick business owner Lindsay Skene and Martin Randall of Adur & Worthing Councils at the Streets Ahead event
Photo: Streets Ahead - part of Waves Ahead conference - was attended by reps from public, private and third sector in Adur and Worthing
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