Experts in town to help boost high street

Simon Quin, Nikolaos-Foivos Ntounis and Cathy Parker before their workshop in Market Rasen
Simon Quin, Nikolaos-Foivos Ntounis and Cathy Parker before their workshop in Market Rasen

Academics from Manchester Metropolitan University were in Market Rasen last Friday for a meeting to help Market Rasen boost its High Street.

Simon Quin, Cathy Parker and Nikolaos-Foivos Ntunous attended as part of the £250,000 High Street 2020 project.

Market Rasen was the last of the 10 ‘Portas’ towns they have visited, to meet town officials including representatives from MR BIG, the Town Council, Market Rasen Development Trust and town businesspeople.

Simon Quin, director of the Institute of Place Management, led the workshop, which revealed some of the factors his team have discovered help town centre performance.

“Like many smaller centres, Market Rasen has a strong tradition of independent retailing and this is something to build on. However, if the town is to have a sustainable future, then there is a need for the independent businesses to work together to take forward initiatives,” he said afterwards. He added that the town also has to do more to get passers-by to stop and spend.

MR BIG chair Sara Scott said the academics outlined a model that will help towns focus on key factors that influence the vitality of high streets.

“Reassuringly the things they prioritised were the same things we’ve discovered via first hand experience. The areas at the very top of the list included: consistent opening hours that match the needs of the shopping population, a good visual experience, a good retail mix, sound leadership and strategy for town centre development and a quality visitor experience as well as parking,” she said.

“We have made good in-roads on many of the above- possibly with work to do on consistent opening hours and filling some gaps in our retail mix.”

Town mayor John Matthews attended part of the workshop and awaits a debriefing. He is to meet MR BIG, Rotarians and other groups. Bringing groups to work together is “something high on my agenda,” he said.