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Help shape improvements to get people back on our high streets

Help shape improvements to get people back on our high streets

Bristol’s city centre and high streets are set to receive a boost as plans are drawn up to invest £4.7m to help the city recover from the pandemic.

1 February 2022

The funding is aimed at encouraging people back to the city’s shopping hubs and help further boost the local economy as the city emerges from the pandemic. Compared to pre-pandemic levels, footfall in the city centre is 14.3 per cent lower year on year.

Plans to spend this funding are being shaped by the views of everyone who lives, works and visits the city with the council calling out for people to help inform the next steps.

An online survey has been launched to gather these views and people are being encouraged to also take part in focus groups and attend creative engagement workshops. Information on how to get involved and have your say is available on the council’s website: Have your say on high street improvements.

Councillor Craig Cheney, Deputy Mayor and Cabinet member for Finance, Governance, Property and Culture, said: “The devastating impacts of COVID-19 have brought into sharp focus the importance of our local high streets and the many businesses that we rely on. By leveraging Bristol’s strengths as a creative and diverse city, the culture and events sector will play an important role in supporting the recovery of the city centre and Bristol’s high streets, helping to get people visiting these places.

“Having open conversations with residents and exploring ideas will help us understand what events and activities people want, helping to boost footfall and support businesses. We welcome input from the local community and look forward to putting their ideas into action.”
During autumn 2021, the council gathered initial feedback from businesses, residents and visitors on priorities and ideas for street scene improvements, and arts and culture events for the city centre and each of the nine priority high streets.

More detail is now being sought on these suggested improvements and activities to inform the development plans for each area. This is a chance for communities to co-design arts, culture and event activities that will help their local high street thrive once more as the beating heart of the community.

The council have commissioned Bristol-based Play:Disrupt to run three creative engagement workshops* on each of the nine priority high streets. These workshops are designed to facilitate open conversations with businesses, residents and visitors, and to build an understanding of what events and activities people really want to see on their local high street.

Using creative play and storytelling to engage and capture information and ideas from a diverse audience will help the council’s proposals to represent the wider community, address the challenges facing each individual high street and draw out the distinctiveness of each area.

Malcolm Hamilton, Creative Director at Play:Disrupt said:

“We’re really excited to collaborate with residents on the future of the high street. The pandemic has hit our high streets hard, and the recovery fund from Bristol City Council will bring fresh arts and culture to Bristol in a local, focused way. Our playful, interactive workshops will help to understand what unique activity is already happening, what might support change and how local people can best be involved, with this programme and into the future. We’re really looking forward to connecting with neighbourhood culture and diverse communities across Bristol.”

Visit the council website for details of city centre and our high street recovery activity

*The creative engagement workshops are being funded by the Reopening High Streets Safely and Welcome Back Fund, with monies from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.

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