In recent years, Clacton Town Centre, like many others across the country, has been suffering from decreasing footfall and a drop in trade as the popularity and convenience of on-line and out of town shopping has risen sharply.
With big-name brands disappearing from our High Streets, Tendring District Council (TDC) has been working with Essex County Council (ECC), local businesses and other partners to develop a vision for the future and a plan of action aimed at improving footfall and trade which led to Clacton Town Centre being shortlisted for the government’s ‘Future High Streets Fund’ which could award up to £25million of funding towards ‘transformational’ changes in the area.
TDC and ECC have been working with partners and specialist consultants on a more detailed ‘business case’ that must be submitted for the government’s consideration in July. These will include plans for new and improved multi-storey car parks, a new library and education facility, new housing, market space and improved pedestrian linkages. There are also ideas for increasing on-street parking opportunities, improving road signage, tackling anti-social behaviour, creating an events space and performance stage on the town square and promoting the ‘Love Clacton’ brand.
There may be some temporary changes introduced into the town centre in the coming weeks as part of the response to Covid-19, but this piece of work is focused on long-term proposals for the future of Clacton.
The Council has also commissioned consultants to undertake a household telephone survey across the Tendring District to ask about people’s shopping habits and their views on Clacton Town Centre and other town centres in the area.
The Leader of Tendring District Council, Neil Stock OBE stated: “We know that the way that people spend their time and money is changing and Clacton Town Centre will need to offer something different in the coming years to ensure it can compete for trade. The Future High Streets Fund is a golden opportunity to get some much needed investment into the town and I am delighted that central government finally recognises the issues that coastal towns like Clacton face. I hope that residents and businesses will be able to support the proposals that are being drawn up so we can secure the funding”.
Councillor Mary Newton, TDC’s Portfolio Holder for Business & Economic Growth added: “We have some fantastic shops and businesses in Clacton Town Centre who are committed to serving residents and visitors – so it makes me very sad when I hear people making negative comments. The only way we can reverse the town’s fortunes is for local people to support their town, shop locally, promote its many positive features and help the Council and its partners with positive ideas and suggestions for improving the area.”
Councillor Tony Ball, Essex County Council’s portfolio holder for Economic Growth also said: “We’re really pleased to be able to present these proposals to you and it’s vital that we get your input so that residents and local businesses can have a sense of optimism and pride that Clacton Town Centre can be rejuvenated into the thriving seaside town it once was but fit for the 21st century. With a focus on improving visitor and resident numbers, the way people access the town and the street environment we hope that following these challenging times the businesses in Clacton will be buoyed up by seeing some short-term investment as a result of the Future High Street Fund, followed by a programme of longer term investment, aimed at working towards a more diverse town centre offer.”