Seeking ambitious ideas to improve the town
- Credit: Archant
A leading town centre expert says Clacton town centre has `a lot of potential’ to thrive, if it embraces change.
Ojay McDonald, chief executive of the Association of Town and City Management, visited Clacton and toured the town.
Later he addressed a meeting of the Clacton Town Centre Working Group – set up by Tendring District Council to look at improving the area – about the challenges facing town centres, and to answer questions.
Mr McDonald told the group turbulence among big name retailers, the growth of online shopping and the recession had all compounded issues for town centres – while a future challenge was to get young people using them so we do not, “foster a generation that never uses a town centre”.
“For Clacton there is a lot of potential,” Mr McDonald said.
“I know it’s not perfect, no town centre is. The retail market is not what it once was, but I look at the architecture and also the modern buildings, and some of them are really nice.
“The building blocks are in place – work is needed to get Clacton thriving but potential is vital and Clacton has it.”
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Much of the Town Centre Working Group’s discussion focused on a potential bid to the government’s Future High Streets Fund. Town centres can apply to for up to £25million to help re-shape town centres.
The group heard how successful areas would most likely get between £5m-£10m which could be spent on big infrastructure changes.
Mr McDonald urged the group to be ambitious and innovative, and to use evidence to inform their bid, if they wanted to stand a chance of being successful in what would be an extremely competitive funding pot.
Zoe Fairley TDC cabinet member said having Mr McDonald’s insight had been valuable.
She said: “It was incredibly useful having an outside perspective from someone leading in their field who could give a frank assessment of Clacton, and I am grateful to Mr McDonald for his time and thoughts,
“It is reassuring, and even exciting, to have it confirmed that Clacton has real potential.
“Hearing about what we may need to include in a bid to the Future High Streets Fund, and just how ambitious we must be, really sparked some creative ideas and I look forward to exploring those with the Working Group further.”