Letchworth Garden City town centre is beginning to buzz following relocations and approval of a number of new units, demonstrating a vote of confidence in its future, according to the manager of Letchworth GC’s Business Improvement District (BID).
The positive message comes as new and relocating premises are being taken up in all quarters of the town, from Wildwood Restaurant on the corner of Eastcheap, Crafty’s Beer Shop and Garden City Brewery in The Wynd.
And in a further vote of confidence, the building of the new 57-bedroom Premier Inn on Station Road, has lead independently owned shops such as Aspidistra Florist, a family-run business with more than 35 years’ experience, and Amron's House of Fashion to relocate to new premises in the Arcade.
With a host of regular and major events planned throughout the year, including an ambitious Christmas Gala BID is keen to enlist the support of more businesses to help foster greater community spirit and increase footfall in the town centre.
Tom Hardy, the driving force behind Letchworth GC BID since January, said: “Most of the new lettings are independent, smaller businesses. The strong message is to come and shop, eat and drink in Letchworth Garden City, to enjoy the quality of service locally and help continue to strengthen the town centre.
“As a lifelong resident, I am passionate about Letchworth Garden City town centre and all that it has to offer as a fantastic place to live and as a great base for business. We also have a unique feel in the town, with its friendly atmosphere, and mix of big brands and independent stores.
“There are around 150 retail premises in the town centre, and while the economic downturn and the rise of internet shopping has seen closures over the past couple of years, Letchworth Town Centre now appears to be fighting back.”
BIDS are formal partnership between local authorities and local businesses who come together to make and deliver plans to improve trade and footfall within their town centre. Through the BID, local businesses identify projects or services that will add value and agree how to fund and manage it. Letchworth GC BID and its projects complement the services statutorily provided by North Hertfordshire District Council and Letchworth Heritage Foundation.
The BID has set out a 2016/17 action plan to increase footfall and vibrancy into the town centre. As well as various schemes directed at helping town centre businesses the action plan has seen the introduction of a weekly Thursday market on Leys Avenue and a weekly Sunday car boot sale in the car park by the former Town Hall. It is also supporting a £250,000 town centre signage scheme which is due to be completed by October this year and aims to attract new visitors into the town.
Alongside regular street food and live music events, major events have also been planned throughout the year catering for different age groups including: a Food and Drink Festival in May; Town Centre Take Over activity day in July, which included a giant 70m water slide and 30m inflatable assault course; Letchworth’s first Beer and World Food Festival in October and the Christmas Light Switch on in November.
There are also ambitious plans to host a Christmas gala with a market, traditional funfair, light display and possible ice rink in Broadway Gardens for eight weeks over the festive period. BID is now keen to hear from businesses who may be interested in helping to sponsor this event.