Many town centre businesses in Hertford are currently struggling and the town needs a clear and visible action plan, according to a new report commissioned by the District Council.
The report also says that the vacant Bircherley Green Shopping Centre is broadcasting a very visible and major sign of decline and stagnation.
Retail management consultancy The Retail Group were commissioned to undertake a study of Hertford town centre’s retail opportunity.
Other findings include a perceived lack of council activity in helping the town centre.
Consultants recommend the appointment of a town centre manager to focus on “proactive business development, footfall generation and positive PR creation”.
“Hertford needs visible, proactive and targeted support and intervention urgently”.
Local businesses reported footfall down by up to 50%, with some being forced to close due to the town centre’s decline.
"The plan will need to focus on actions that can be delivered immediately/in the short (next 3-6 months) as well as medium term (6-24 months)", concludes the report.
Whilst the town centre currently suffers from significant issues, the report also highlights many positive signs. Retail vacancies are below the national average if Bircherley Green is discounted. The authors also emphasised the importance of the town’s rich retail environment.
Despite the report's findings, there was little discussion when it was presented to the District Council’s Executive Committee on Thursday 21st January. Councillors simply voted to note the contents of the report and recommend that the Council works with other "stakeholders" to agree "the appropriate mechanism to support the improvement of economic and retail performance and environmental considerations within Hertford Town Centre".
The full report can be read at here.
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