The High Streets Task Force has revisited Ellesmere Port to see progress in the town centre which was one of the first locations to receive Task Force support through its pilot programme in 2020.
The Task Force heard about the legacy of their support in the town in addition to hearing about the new development board structures and fresh approaches to partnership working. The Board saw a variety of projects which are breathing new life into Ellesmere Port.
On a morning tour of the town centre, the Board visited the Council’s new Portal, shared services building, designed to make accessing advice and support easier and offering social value to the town and its residents.
Up to 360 staff will now be situated closer to the town centre, creating a new and sustainable anchor which is already creating new investment interest in the surrounding buildings and amenities.
The Board also visited Whitby Hall which is being developed by Action Transport Theatre into a world-class centre for arts and culture, focused on children and families. This is one part of a new diverse offer that includes activity in Ellesmere Port market, such as pop-up music and food from Community Interest Company Ellesmere Port Social that has driven footfall increases by up to 30 per cent.
Task Force Chair, Mark Robinson, said, “There are some fantastic new projects being delivered in Ellesmere Port which are truly exciting for residents and visitors. It’s testament to the work ethic and engagement of local groups, from the Council to community groups, the local college, and businesses.
“The Task Force is pleased to have been able to support this momentum, helping to convene local partners and provide some expertise from the Landscape Institute and the Institute of Place Management to unlock some key challenges.”
Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economy & Regeneration, said, “Through the pandemic, the resources provided by the Task Force proved extremely helpful, including their online recovery framework. Looking to the long-term future of Ellesmere Port, we’ve benefited from practical advice on bringing together a partnership that can deliver for the area.
“The Partnership will now push forward with our plans to bring public services, housing and an enhanced cultural offer into the town to support town centre businesses and make Ellesmere Port an even better place to live, work, learn and visit.”
The Task Force Board spent the afternoon at Ellesmere Port Civic Hall and discussed the findings of the Task Force from its work around the country supporting over 70 locations since 2020.
Presented with data collected from Task Force consultation and support, the Board discussed how place leadership and effective partnership working were common requirements across several local areas and that addressing these factors will be key to regeneration.
The Board also heard from appointed Task Force Experts, Sonia Cubrillo and Dianne Cunningham, on their own reflections from supporting towns through diagnostic visits and provision of expert advice.
Task Force Director, Matt Colledge, said, “It’s vital that the Task Force continues to reflect on the needs of town and city centres in England, and on the effectiveness of the Expert support that we provide. There is a brilliant range of infrastructure investment and innovation going on across the country and our role is to help ensure that translates to value for communities as well as helping areas generate interest and investment.”
The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, High Streets Task Force is made up of technical and professional experts with wide-ranging expertise to support, co-ordinate and develop a national approach for the transformation of traditional town centres and high streets and also provide access to data and information.