Parking charges and the return of the market: MP proposes 26 initiatives to transform Lowestoft’s high street
- Credit: Nick Butcher
Reviewing car parking charges and the reintroduction of the Triangle Market are among more than two dozen initiatives suggested to revitalise Lowestoft's high street.
After speaking on the issue in Parliament earlier in April, Waveney MP Peter Aldous has now proposed 26 initiatives aimed at turning around the town centre's fortunes after a spate of shop and café closures.
The initiatives include nine short-term challenges facing the town, such as improving communication from utility companies around emergency road closures, an issue cited as one of the reasons behind Coes closing their doors in the town.
Mr Aldous also called for a review of car parking charges, with calls made from councillors and members of the public in February for free parking amid fears prices were putting off potential shoppers.
Longer term initiatives suggested include the adoption of a 'town centre first' approach, with the rise of shopping centres out of Lowestoft town centre highlighted as a factor in the decline of the high street.
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Speaking in Parliament earlier this month, Mr Aldous said: 'The high street is under pressure for many reasons. Those that affect all towns include the move, since the 1980s, towards out-of-town shopping, with the convenience of free parking right in front of the store, which is not available for shops on the high street.'
As well as the short and long-term suggestions, Mr Aldous has also suggested a number of other projects which require coordination with other organisations.
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Expanding on East Suffolk Council's 'vision', which forms part of their Future High Streets Fund bid, Mr Aldous said: 'The High Street area will become Lowestoft's heritage quarter, with a mix of independent retailers, galleries and local eateries.
'The town hall will be brought back into use to provide cultural and community space.
'The ancient pathways known as the Scores, which link the High Street to the former beach village and onwards to Ness Point, will be restored to their original condition.'
The final six points raised are matters to be addressed with national Government, including securing funding from the Future High Streets Fund, review of business rates and VAT.
In proposing the initiatives, Mr Aldous has called for feedback on the plans, including any further suggestions.
The 26 proposals are set out below.
Short term challenges:
- Keeping the streets clean and tidy
- Investigating the possibility of a Lowestoft in Bloom scheme in the town centre
- Review of car parking charges
- Improved communication of emergency road closures from utility companies
- Measures to improve traffic flows
- Finding an alternative use of the Town Hall
- Advice and support for businesses from the New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP)
- Reintroduction of the Triangle Market
- Encouraging engagement with landlords
- Maximising the benefits of the third crossing
- Improving links to the South Beach
- Encouraging the adoption of a 'town centre first' policy
- Promotion of the redevelopment of the former Battery Green car park and the old Post Office
Projects requiring coordination:
- Tackling rough sleeping and homelessness
- Plans for the Ness
- Heritage Action Zone projects, including the refurbishment of the Scores
- Redevelopment of Lowestoft Railway Station
- Refurbishment of Lowestoft Library
- REAF Fishing Project
- Lowestoft Flood Defence Scheme
National government matters:
- Transfer of responsibility for enforcing on street parking restrictions from Suffolk Police to East Suffolk Council
- Lobbying to secure funding from the Future High Streets Fund and investigating bids to the Stronger Towns Fund and the Coastal Communities Fund
- Review of business taxation, including business rates
- Review of the planning regime so as to encourage a greater range of users in town centres
- Promotion of a wider range of housing in town centres
- Review of the VAT regime so as to encourage residential redevelopment of existing town centre buildings
What do you think needs to be done to transform Lowestoft's high street? Send your thoughts to Reece.Hanson@archant.co.uk