Town could be pilot for rejuvenation scheme

A DAVENTRY group is to bid for up to £100,000 to help rejuvenate the town centre.

In her review of the nation’s high streets, retail guru Mary Portas suggested various measures to improve town centres, including getting more people involved in deciding what they should contain and improving the atmosphere for visitors.

To test out the ideas, the Government is making available grants of up to £100,000 for 12 pilot areas and has said that it expects areas to take forward the recommendation to “put in place a town team” as a central part of their bid.

Daventry District Council’s strategy group were due to discuss backing a proposed bid for some of that money tonight (Thursday).

The bid is being led by the Daventry Business Partnership, but would involve other bodies and individuals.

Councillor Chris Over is economic, regeneration and employment portfolio holder at DDC, and represents the town centre area.

He said: “The idea of a town team is to get various interested groups and individuals together.

“We have a town centre which has some really interesting buildings. But that has also caused problems because older, smaller units are not what the big names want.

“We mustn’t forget that we have plans to build new, modern, units in the town centre at Mulberry Place [planned for the Primrose Hill car park and library site].

“I think the future for the current town centre will be more niche and independent traders, like in Sheaf Street.

“Sheaf Street has been a real success.

“We need to look at what has been done in Sheaf Street by the authorities and by the businesses, and see if that can be used elsewhere.”

As well as supporting a bid for Daventry’s town centre, the council looks set to back bids for shopping areas in the rest of the district.

Discussing town teams in her report Mary Portas said: “It’s up to local areas to decide what works for them, but a town team could include key landlords, large and small shopkeepers, council representatives with specific knowledge of planning and development, the mayor or MP, other local businesses and service providers, and local residents.”

Adding: “The people that lead town teams would be champions of the high street.

“They would be the high street’s charismatic voice, spearheading a clear local vision for retailing and applying professional management to our high streets.”