Love our High Streets - Kingswood
On 30 November 2018, the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) agreed to fund a £10 million programme to reinvigorate High Streets in the WECA constituent councils of Bath and North East Somerset, Bristol City, and South Gloucestershire. This funding has been identified for the region to test a series of pilot projects aimed at tackling the challenges that some of our mature High Streets are facing in an age of internet and out-of-town shopping and the detrimental impact of vacant premises.
Council leaders have been challenged to identify where the WECA funding can make a real impact in their local High Streets and communities. South Gloucestershire Council has put forward Kingswood as a location with a traditional High Street and a rich heritage and is proposing a package of projects that our share of the funding (up to £3.3 million) could support as part of plans to reinvigorate the area and tackle some of the challenges that have been reported from the community.
According to a recent residents’ survey:
- 62% of Kingswood respondents identified litter as a big issue
- 42% of Kingswood respondents identified empty/dilapidated buildings as a big issue
- 19% of Kingswood residents identified improvements to parks and playgrounds as a big issue
We have used this feedback alongside findings from work led by the Scrutiny Committee and from regular Member-led walkabouts in Kingswood, to identify a series of objectives and initial proposals for the Kingswood ‘Love our High Streets’ project.
Our objectives for Kingswood High Street and the surrounding area are
- to increase the number of people visiting Kingswood High Street
- cleaner, safer streets with better quality public infrastructure (bins, ﬂower beds, bus shelters etc.)
- to bring empty premises back into use
- to upgrade the quality of High Street premises
- to provide new employment opportunities
- to promote awareness of the heritage of the high street
- to develop local skills with a focus on new technology
Our initial proposals are for WECA funding to support
- action to tackle empty premises
- delivery of a Makerspace Studio* – a digital learning classroom in the high street, with a range of equipment for use by schools, families and anyone wanting to improve their career skills
- work to stabilise Whitfield Tabernacle and support a Heritage Lottery Fund bid to further improve the Tabernacle and bring it back into community use
- future planning of Kingswood urban area to provide new employment, new housing, public and green space and to improve its existing heritage
- a range of community-led projects
- new street cleaning machinery and bins
- possible new infrastructure and community facilities for Kingswood Park and support for a separate Heritage Lottery Fund application.
How to find out more and have your say:
We would like to hear your views about this opportunity, our objectives and our initial proposals.
- Do you agree with the objectives listed above?
- Are there other issues you feel need to be addressed in Kingswood High Street?
- Do you agree with the initial proposals for funding support to be agreed with the West of England Combined Authority?
- Please tell us if you or your business/community group might be able to assist us to deliver this project
or by post to:
Love our high streets survey
South Gloucestershire Council
Chief Executive & Corporate Resources Department
PO Box 1953
Bristol BS37 0DB
Please reply by Wednesday 6 March 2019.
*What is a Makerspace Studio?
The Makerspace Studio is a particularly exciting opportunity for Kingswood High Street and a facility that doesn’t exist in South Gloucestershire at the moment although there are a number of comparable examples in the wider South West such as the Glass Box in Taunton and the Fab Lab at Exeter Library.
The idea of the Makerspace is that it is a shared workspace in a publically accessible building which can be used for learning, exploring and creating with anything from very high tech equipment to very simple tools and your bare hands. The building will be open at different times to a whole range of groups and members of the public from children and families, to adult learners, entrepreneurs and small businesses. It might offer 3D printers, laser cutters and computers but also soldering irons, sewing machines and even Lego or arts and crafts.
We have spoken to a number of partners in schools (primary and secondary), further education and higher education as well as businesses about how they might consider getting involved in running courses, presenting to schools or public audiences and supporting community events. We would also like to explore what other community functions could be delivered in this space that would be of interest to the wider Kingswood community and make this a real hub on the High Street.
If you would like or to be involved in the development of the Makerspace Studio, please register your interest using this form and a council officer will contact you.
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