28 April 2011
St Helens in Merseyside is set to increase its number of shoppers with a borough-wide study underway to identify potential capacity to attract new retailers.
Appointed by St.Helens Council, specialist consultants from WYG will assess the current retail offering in the town centres of St Helens and Earlestown, and assess opportunities which exist to enhance retail provision.
The study involves a comprehensive survey of shoppers and businesses to examine existing trade patterns and to quantify the level of need for additional facilities. A combination of a telephone survey, on-street interviews and a business survey will be undertaken. The retail study also forms a critical part of the evidence base to inform the production of Local Development Framework documents.
Keith Nutter, Director, WYG said: “It is well publicised that town centres across the UK are facing tough times ahead. St Helens and Earlsetown town centres in Merseyside are no exception.
“If the Council is to plan positively for the future regeneration of the town centres it is imperative that there is a clear understanding of the current strengths and weaknesses of the centres. Our expertise in gathering this type of evidence will prove invaluable when forming a strategy which will seek to maximise the benefits of any future investment.
“We will be looking into current shopping, leisure and travel patterns, finding out local people’s views on the town centres: what people like, or how they could be improved, and establishing local businesses views on trading conditions within the town centres,” he added.
Mark Dickens, Head of Regeneration, said: “The study will be a vital tool for planning the future development of both St Helens and Earlestown town centres. In particular, Earlestown market has been an important focal point for Earlestown town centre for many years, attracting visitors from a wide area. However, the market is not immune to the impacts of the current recession.
“With the extensive experience that WYG holds in planning and the knowledge they bring to the table I am confident in their ability to gain the results we need to start identifying the potential improvements that are required to bring Earlestown back to life.”
The award-winning consultancy has a strong track record in the region and advises both public and private sector clients across a wide range of market sectors. The consultancy currently provides expert retail planning advice to numerous local authorities across the north west of England.
The council is keen to ensure that Earlestown town centre remains the boroughs second largest retail centre supporting a range of shopping and leisure opportunities with the market playing a key focal role.