£250,000 art regeneration plans for Highbridge are unveiled
brand new £250,000 project to regenerate part of Highbridge
town centre by creating an 'arts and crafts quarter' has been
unveiled this week.
the proposals, a dozen boarded-up shops along Market Street would
be transformed into workshops, studios and retail outlets to be
used by artists and crafts people.
group of Highbridge councillors, led by Phil Harvey, has put forward
the plans to turn the town centre into a 'unique destination'
with funding from the government's Coastal Communities Fund.
visit to Highbridge, Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny
Alexander suggested that the Burnham-On-Sea area could benefit
from the fund, although town councillors have decided not to make
an application this year, but submit a fully-researched bid in
Cllr Harvey told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "Retailing in Highbridge
is dominated by Asda at the northern end of the town. Market Street
at the southern end has a significant number of empty shops and
Market Street is never going to be able to re-establish itself
as a shopping street with a traditional mix of shops such as a
greengrocer, butcher or grocer able to compete with the two supermarkets
in the town. In addition to the difficulty of being able to compete
on price, the existing premises are, in general, small and old-fashioned
and therefore not suited to modern retail use."
best option is to establish itself as a 'destination', somewhere
that people go to because it offers something different. It needs
a unique selling point that has proved to be successful in other
towns faced with similar problems. Such an example is the successful
turnaround of Catherine Hill in Frome from a street of empty shops
to a thriving area dominated by arts and crafts."
am proposing that Market Street should therefore seek to become
a community of artists and craftsmen and women in which the premises
are both workshops, studios and retail outlets."
added: "The rationale for this is that the vacant premises
will not be able to attract high rental values, even with upgrading,
but such premises may be attractive to those in the artistic and
craft community seeking work and retail space."
establishing a number of such outlets provides synergy and establishes
Market Street as a "destination" where a number of different
but complementary arts and crafts can be viewed and purchased.
This approach has worked well in other areas."
Harvey added that in order to achieve this, the support of landlords
will be vital. "The willingness of landlords and agents to
embrace the vision and to work together on a strategy to achieve
it is essential - they will have to pool their efforts rather
than work in competition. Secondly, we will also need in place
the necessary finance and co-ordination and this is where the
bid to the Coastal Communities Fund comes in. I think we will
need at least £250,000 to take this fully forward."
district councillor Joe Leach told Burnham-On-Sea.com he is backing
think these proposals could greatly benefit Highbridge. It's good
to see something definitive being put forward like this,"
right that a bid for Coastal Communities Fund cash is not being
rushed into by this month deadline - it needs plenty of time and
to be fully researched with input from the people and businesses
Harvey says the next step will be to discuss the proposals with
Highbridge Chamber of Trade and other businesses ahead of work
beginning on a formal application for funding.
Cllr Phil Harvey and Joe Leach with a copy of the proposals