Plans are being drawn up to transform town centres

Plans are being drawn up to help get the district's town centres fit for the future.

Malvern Hills District Council is producing five town centre transformation plans for Barnards Green, Great Malvern, Malvern Link, Tenbury Wells and Upton upon Severn.

The documents will set out a vision for the future of each retail centre, identifying the different challenges facing each one and the opportunities available. They will then be used to attract inward investment from both the public and commercial sector, as well as guide planning decisions.

Working with consultants Geoff Hughes Ltd with Paul Sampson Associates, a consultation will be launched in September with businesses, land and property owners, Worcestershire County Council, town and parish councils, community groups and the public to gain views on how they see the future of the high street.

The results of the consultation will be published in January and it is planned the prospectuses will be signed off by spring 2022.

The prospectuses are part of the council's Five Year Plan commitment to help revitalise the town centres as they come under attack from the rise of online competitors, out of town retail parks and changing consumer habits.

The Covid-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the high street, accelerated the move towards online shopping and resulting in the collapse of several big chain stores.

While the strong independent shopping scene in the district's retail centres means they are well placed to weather the current storm, the towns will still need to adapt to survive.

Cllr Daniel Walton, Portfolio Holder for Economic Development on Malvern Hills District Council, added: "There is absolutely a future for the high street but it will be very different to the traditional town centre we have all grown up with. Businesses will have to adapt but we've got an important role too. By using our influence and policy making powers we can help create town centres fit for the challenges of the 21st Century and a post-pandemic world."

To be the first to take part in the consultation, sign up to the dedicated consultation e-newsletter at www.malvernhills.gov.uk/emailalerts.

Cllr Daniel Walton in Tenbury.
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