Release date: 12 November 2018
More than 50 business and community leaders, and three town regeneration experts, gathered to spark ideas for supporting and revitalising town centres and high streets across West Sussex.
The Let’s Talk About Our Towns event was instigated by county council Leader Louise Goldsmith to provide a local forum to consider the challenges high streets are facing, nationwide.
Louise had heard town regeneration experts Bill Grimsey and Jackie Sadek speak at the Local Government Association conference and was keen to invite them to West Sussex to talk to a variety of local organisations involved with our town centres. They were joined by Wayne Hemingway, who is an advisor to the county council on urban design projects.
Welcoming the gathering at Edes House in Chichester, Louise said: “West Sussex is home to a wonderful and diverse range of towns: market, rural and coastal towns and a beautiful cathedral city - but they will only thrive and change if we recognise we need to change.
“We are all aware of the dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour that have led to many of our town centres experiencing challenges.
“I hope this evening will start conversations, encourage innovative thinking and the sharing of best practice which will help our towns become more vibrant and resilient.
“Today is about listening, sharing ideas and the start of a journey. Everyone has a role in building a strong, vibrant community.”
Speakers Tuesday’s (6 November) were: Bill Grimsey, author of The Grimsey Review 1 & 2 ‘The Vanishing High Street’ and former Chief Executive Officer of, among others, Wickes and Iceland; Jackie Sadek, Chief Operating Officer of UK Regeneration, former Government adviser and regeneration practitioner, and co-author of The Grimsey Review; and Wayne Hemingway, co-founder of Hemingway Design, who is working with the county council to launch the Bognor Regis Creative Digital Hub.
Bill emphasised the need for town centres to have a business plan, setting out how they would thrive in the future. All the speakers highlighted the Government’s recent Budget announcement about a new fund to support town centres and the opportunity this could present.
Attendees provided feedback and ideas which will now be considered before the next step is announced to maintain the momentum.
Town talk: Bill Grimsey, author and town regeneration expert, with Louise Goldsmith, county council Leader, at the Let’s Talk About Our Towns event