A PUBLIC and private partnership between North East Lincolnshire Council and the owners of Freshney Place is bidding for £25 million of Government cash to transform part of Grimsby Town Centre.
The government has created the Future High Streets Fund with the objective to renew and reshape town centres and high streets to improve visitor experience, drive growth and ensure future sustainability. Winning bids are expected to be announced in the autumn.
If successful, the partners have impressive plans to put the heart and soul back into Grimsby Town Centre with a new cinema, and food and beverage and retail offer – together with a redeveloped market hall and new public square. The vision is to develop an evening economy for the town, increase leisure activities and draw in more visitors with a better experience for the whole community.
In identifying the site for investment, extensive research was undertaken which examined areas that could be improved with investment to generate transformational change, which is a key requirement for securing the grant monies.
The location proposed comprises the western side of Victoria Street, incorporating the former BHS building, Flottergate Mall, Grimsby Top Town Market and Old Market Square. Having considered the Grimsby masterplan, the built environment, the current uses and redundant buildings, this site was selected as the prime area for regeneration as required by the Government fund.
The vision has been released today ahead of the formal bid submission next month.
The proposals have been worked up jointly by the Council and the owners of Freshney Place, supported by a range of specialists with experience of the retail and leisure sectors to ensure any future scheme addresses the challenges being faced by town centres across the country.
The wholescale transformational offer has been put together to deliver real change for Grimsby – helping the town adapt to changing visitor needs and requirements and making it a place for everyone to come together and enjoy.
Detailed talks with all stakeholders will start if the bid is successful. The partners want to engage with the market traders, retailers and business premises’ owners, together with the wider community so that everyone can participate in reshaping the town centre for the benefit of all.
Believing North East Lincolnshire’s submission to be robust, Council Leader, Cllr Philip Jackson, said: “We want to take everyone with us as we progress this plan. Change is not just desirable to recreate our town centre, it is vital and this is Grimsby’s biggest and best chance to look at what is really required to create a new future.
“We appreciate that to some people it may seem like there have been a number of plans that have not progressed. However, if our bid is accepted then this redevelopment has the strongest chance of success as the money is secured from Central Government. This is a very important element of a wider town centre improvements that we will be consulting on in the near future,” he added.”
Cllr John Fenty, Cabinet member for regeneration in North East Lincolnshire said: “If you look around, you can see that the schemes we have already won grant funding for are now being delivered.
“The proposed scheme sits at the heart of the town centre and aligns with our vision to breath new and vibrant life into the town centre, incorporating a state of the art market, new leisure, food and drinks outlets and a new public square. I’m excited to see the proposals and hope that others will be too.”
Cllr Callum Procter, Cabinet member for tourism and culture added: “Nationally, town centres are changing to incorporate more leisure use. We’re working to incorporate cultural elements already in the Garth Lane and St James’ schemes that are already on site, and the vision to add this leisure offering is completely complementary.”
Amanda Austin, Freshney Place Centre Director, said: “We are delighted to be working in Partnership with North East Lincolnshire Council to formulate and submit these exciting proposals which we see as a huge opportunity to reshape, revive and harmonise Grimsby Town Centre and Freshney Place Shopping Centre for the benefit of all our customers and retailers as well as all the residents of Grimsby and the surrounding area.”
Why reshape Grimsby in this way? Information from the research report
North East Lincolnshire Council engaged specialists in urban planning to work with them and the owners of Freshney Place as key stakeholders in the town centre, to examine Grimsby Town Centre in the context of national changes to the high street and the way people use and enjoy their town centres.
The result has been the creation of the largest town centre funding submission in the area’s history and one that builds upon the significant amount of work already carried out in the area, or is currently underway, that is supported by previous successful bids.
For the first time it also properly looks at the ‘flow’ of the town centre as a whole from the work that has just started to remodel St James’ Square, through to the Riverhead, which the experts firmly believe should not be built on, but developed as an open public area that links the centre, to the new-look Garth Lane and West Haven Maltings and onto Grimsby Fishing Heritage Centre and the waterside.
It has also been identified that:
- Grimsby does not have an established leisure offer to support the town centre retail offer with fast food and bingo only on the town centre’s edge. This combined with too much retail space means the town will not grow and retain spending, leading to a cycle of dis-investment;
- Nationally, shopping centres have seen a shift, with some now seeing 25 per cent of their space used for leisure;
- The proposed scheme sits at the heart of the town centre and aligns with the transformational vision to create a new, vibrant market sitting alongside new leisure, food and drinks outlets and a public square to fully integrate these town centre uses;
- When assessing the potential for a successful £25m bid, the objectives of the Future High Streets Fund were best met by developing this area. Those are to address the transition of retail space to alternative uses;
- This west side of Freshney Place and the town centre was identified as having greater potential to transform the area with a more positive economic impact and substantial environmental improvements;
- It is shown in other towns and cities that markets in the future will act as ‘important anchors’ in revitalised town centres;
- Household leisure expenditure in North East Lincolnshire is considerably lower than the average UK household. This indicates either a lack of leisure provision or a lack of willingness to spend on leisure.