Published on 25 May 2022
Archived on 25 June 2022
A Stratford organisation dedicated to working collaboratively to improve the town has welcomed a report (Stratford upon Avon Benchmarking Report 2021 ) of the town's prosperity which shows broad support for the changes it is looking to help introduce.
A 'benchmarking audit' of Stratford town centre's footfall, shops, and visitors' opinions on the town was conducted by People and Places Insight during two visits in 2021, which was followed by a report on the findings being released.
And the Stratford Strategic Partnership, made up of councillors and officers across the three tiers of councils in Stratford along with major Stratford organisations in the public and private sectors, felt the report backs up its main ideas on how to improve the town.
The report showed many people felt the number of empty units in the town centre was too high, and more needed to be done to improve this. Others felt the retail offer in the town could be improved.
And many people when asked by People and Place Insight cited the need to pedestrianise parts of the town centre in Stratford to attract more footfall.
Parking was cited as a problem in Stratford, with more than 70 per cent claiming it should be improved. However, on the days of the audit, more than 39 per cent of the town's spaces were actually empty - higher than average percentage of vacant spaces in towns in the UK.
Geraldine Collinge, Director of Creative Placemaking and Public Programmes at the Royal Shakespeare Company and chair of the Strategic Partnership, said: "The audit produced some quite interesting results which will help inform the Partnership's discussions and recommendations, especially around things like pedestrianisation, parking and revitalising the town centre.
"The plans to alter Bridge Street and High Street currently out for consultation, while not a full pedestrianisation, prioritise those on foot and on bikes compared to vehicles as Bridge Street's roadway will be narrowed and pavements widened, and High Street will be closed to traffic between 11am and 4pm.
"We are also in talks with the main landlords in Stratford town centre on the best strategy for filling vacant units and making the town as attractive as possible or new businesses to come in.
"And we are also working with the Transport Group on an overall strategy to improve public transport into and out of Stratford, reducing the need for people to drive in and park and therefore reducing the demand for parking spaces.
"Audits like this allow us to assess where we are and what needs to be done to improve. Stratford is in a good place already - the report said more than 80 per cent would recommend visiting - but there is much more to do to help make it even better.
"The Partnership will continue to have collaborative discussions on the best ways to improve Stratford for residents, businesses and visitors, and this report will be a very useful reference to inform our thinking."
Cllr Matt Jennings, ICT, Transformation, HR, Tourism and Projects Portfolio at Stratford District Council, added: "Evidence based data is essential when regions want to put forward a business case to central government for national grants to enhance the District's infrastructure.
"This is especially true with future Government Levelling Up bids. During Covid, Stratford District Council was successful in obtaining funding from the Government's Welcome Back Fund, to undertake a comprehensive District-wide survey of the eight main settlements. This included assessing the performance of the towns, commercial offering, vacancy rates, footfall and car parking and recommendations for improvements.
"This 'forward thinking' and innovative use of resources has put the District Council in the best possible position to be able to secure future funding to enhance the whole District."
Stratford-on-Avon District Council
Elizabeth House, Church Street,
Tel: 01789 267575