Portas bid to focus on empty shops

By Ian Dipple 30/03 Updated: 30/03 17:15

Buy photos » Lyndsey Hadley, Redditch Town Centre co-ordinator, Affy Qadeer, local businessman, and Ros Sidaway, chair of Redditch Town Centre Partnership, discuss the town’s bid. Picture by Marcus Mingins 1312023MMR.

A SUPPORT package will be offered to entrepreneurs to encourage them to fill empty units in the town centre if Redditch is successful in becoming a Portas Pilot.

Redditch Town Centre Partnership is bidding to become one of 12 areas to receive a grant in the region of £100,000 to support plans to boost town centres. As well as the money successful towns will also get support from Whitehall and retail guru Mary Portas, who recently compiled a report for the Government into what needed to be done to revitalise Britain's ailing high streets.

Details of the bid have been kept under wraps ahead of tomorrow's final deadline but the Standard can now reveal the focus will be on encouraging businessmen and women to open a diverse range of shops and eateries in empty units in Church Green, Alcester Street and Market Place.

The money will be used to create a business start-up package which will include financial aid, business mentoring and IT support. The bid is being backed both by the borough council and private landlords.

Earlier this week members of the partnership were out in the town centre gathering feedback from the public as well as signatures from residents and businesses.

NEW College have also got involved in the project by shooting a short video to support the submission which can be viewed on You Tube by searching for Redditch Portas bid.

Ros Sidaway, chairman of Redditch Town Centre Partnership, told the Standard: "We want to give those people who want to become an independent shop owner the best chance possible of opening a new business that will add something to that part of the town.

"I believe we have got a good chance. In the Portas Review she said high streets needed to be more than just shops and if you look at the area we are focusing on we already have a theatre, a gym, a library, pubs so we have the kind of thing she says needs to be on a high street as well as shops, but what we don't have too many of is shops.

"Ideally we would have some nice gift shops or a good local food shop or something a bit niche that will attract people into the town centre.

"It's a piece of the puzzle but a very important one."

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