Recent challenging economic conditions, the ongoing Covid pandemic, structural change in the retail market, coupled with changing consumer behaviours and expectations, have had a fundamental impact on high streets across the UK over the past decade.
This change, characterised by an oversupply of retail space in Town Centres coupled with high-profile national retail closures, has led to falling property values, and an increase in vacancies. This trend is expected to continue as operators consolidate operations, and online retailers buy brand names but without trading from their former high street stores, providing for an online consumer base. The internet is expected to account for 53% of retail sales in 10 years’ time, an increase from a fifth at present, as younger people who are familiar with the internet become more than half of the UK’s adult population. In response, more retailers are moving to click and collect and online sales, fundamentally changing the mix of uses in Town Centres.
Looking forward, the commerciality of Town Centres and development opportunities are expected to remain, but the focus will change: to be successful Town Centres will need to reinvent themselves as mixed-use destinations, that include business, healthcare, education and community facilities, with landlords and developers looking to create integrated communities in which to live, work and shop. Fewer shops will mean retailers need to be more engaging and interactive to attract consumers and personalise their Town Centre experience.
An enhanced leisure offer which also encompasses health and well-being benefits, and sustainability, will form a key component of this diversified offer. More people are increasingly choosing to spend their disposable income on leisure experiences. There is considerable market growth potential going forward, with brands looking to expand their portfolios. There is also increasing cross over between market sectors, with the food as-you-go sector growing while restaurants are offering take-away options through delivery services.
Similarly, family friendly leisure experiences are an increasingly important attractor for the lucrative family market. Several leisure operators target Town Centres, including for indoor activity centres, as an anchor for mixed use development. The Town Centre in Worksop is currently underperforming in this regard, and this presents an opportunity for the future.
Due to the speed of social and technological change successful Town Centres will need to be capable of responding and adapting to change quickly or
risk losing out to competitors or new formats. The uncertain nature of change makes planning for specific outcomes more difficult than in the past; a Masterplan with a clear vision and aspiration is more important than ever, giving confidence to businesses, funders, consumers and investors, will support innovation and an ability to secure investment.
The drivers summarise the outcome of research and stakeholder engagement on what factors could move the Town Centre forward successfully.
Stemming to decline of the retail high street
By 2040: The retail core will be well-contained providing more space in the wider area to bring exciting new experiences, community activities
and more people into the Town Centre. A range of complementary uses to the core retail offer will drive footfall and retain visitors for longer. Worksop’s Town Centre will support education and training, the growth of independent new businesses through a variety of formats, including in the green energy sector, but also by promoting a fluid leisure and community focussed opportunity for those who live and work in Worksop and the wider area.
Upskilling Residents & Providing Better Paid Employment
By 2040: the Town Centre will support a range of further and higher education and training opportunities to enable local residents to enhance their skills, get better paid jobs and enjoy the associated quality of life benefits. Providing more space for start-up businesses and independent business growth will enable local business to grow and prosper, retain national enterprises and retain skills to the benefit of the District.
Quality Urban Living
By 2040: more people will move to Worksop to take advantage of location, house prices, lifestyle and quality of life. A range of new homes will appear in the Town Centre, in part delivered by public organisations, in part by private investment. They will be high quality, sustainable, attractive and meet needs of professionals, families as well as older residents in recognition of the benefits intergenerational living can bring to community. Investment will help stimulate positive activity in the residential and commercial market.
Changes to Mobility & Technology
By 2040: more sustainable travel options, such as electric and alternative fuel technology vehicles will be commonplace, with smart infrastructure actively managing movement around the town. The centre will be fully enabled with the most effective digital infrastructure to encourage quality business, living and community growth, including the ongoing demand for homeworking. Smart sensors will monitor and help to manage the urban environment, supporting health, wellbeing and economic growth.
Managing Flood Risk
By 2040: The Town Centre will be protected from flooding by a comprehensive flood management scheme and an integrated sustainable drainage
network, supported by a robust, attractive Green-Blue Ribbon to provide greater resilience to the town’s business and residential communities,
whilst contributing to the wider biodiversity and climate change agenda. The Blue-Green Ribbon will transform Worksop’s relationship with the River Ryton, creating an improved image of the Town Centre and becoming the focus of wellbeing and economic activity. The Chesterfield Canal and Sandhill lake will provide enhanced leisure opportunities for all.
Building Stronger Communities
By 2040: The Town Centre will promote quality urban and intergenerational living in a safe, inclusive and accessible environment. Housing for older people will sit alongside that for younger people and families fostering a sense of community, whilst the wider environment will offer meeting places, community, health and education services for all. Supported by a diverse cultural and community offer, attractive daytime and evening leisure options, the Town Centre will be a vibrant place with a genuine sense of community.
Pedestrian, Cycle & Public Transport Accessibility
By 2040: The Town Centre will be inclusive and accessible supporting active travel and public transport, enabling more people to have opportunities for healthy, active lifestyles. Connectivity within the Town Centre and to nearby areas will be easy and safe on foot or by bike. Green transport options will be embedded in design supporting wider aspirations for climate change mitigation and a greener environment for all. As a multi-modal transport hub Worksop Town Centre will become the gateway to the sub-region and a great place to live.
Highway Infrastructure Improvements
By 2040: Improved connectivity within the Town Centre and to neighbouring areas for vehicles and improvements in public realm will make movement easier and safer for all, improve traffic flow and encourage greater use of the Town Centre attractions and facilities.
By 2040: The celebration of Worksop’s built heritage will act as a catalyst for investment, with the sensitive and innovative re-use of the built form and the creation of attractive public and green spaces and corridors creating a distinctive setting for urban living and working. Diverse business space will attract small, creative heritage related businesses to establish in the Town.
Climate Change & Sustainability Requirements
By 2040: The Town Centre will have showcase sustainability and biodiversity principles: from the way it is accessed to the way the local community interacts with the environment. New developments, regenerated spaces and retrofitted buildings will have exemplary sustainability standards, support green energy, enhance biodiversity, and benefit from built in climate resilience and carbon offsetting through new flood management, tree planting and nature-based solutions.
By 2040: Quality, active and sustainable connections to nearby visitor and cultural attractions like Clumber Park, Creswell Crags, Welbeck Estate will be easy, making the town a hub for visitors, encouraging longer stays and more frequent visits to the Town Centre as part of the visitor experience.
Last Updated on Wednesday, September 28, 2022