Council announces plan for new Weston town centre vision

North Somerset Council has announced it is working up a new vision for Weston town centre in response to the changing face of the high street.

High streets up and down the country are seeing a dramatic shift in shopping habits following the sharp increase in online shopping and wider economic uncertainty, and Weston is no different.

Specialists Turner Works have been commissioned to work with the local community and help the council shape a new set of priorities and projects that reflect the modern retail climate.

At the heart of the new vision will be the local community, identifying economic opportunities driving forward an ambitious town centre plan, encouraging footfall inland from the seafront, challenging Weston’s seasonality and enhancing the experience for visitors and the local community.

The council is also starting a programme of working closely with landlords to bring empty shops back into use, supporting new businesses and encouraging footfall into the town centre.

Weston Art Space is an example of this work. The former Salt Rock store provides a base for arts organisation Terrestrial.  The previously empty unit has become a hub for grassroots arts-based activities in the town centre and is an example of how empty shops can be repurposed to become community focused spaces.

Cllr Mark Canniford, Executive Member for Business, Economy and Employment at North Somerset Council, said: “People want more than just retail when they go shopping, they want an experience. High streets are changing and we must learn to keep pace with this. With more and more people using online retail options, we need to offer something more to entice footfall to our high street.

“There will be some really interesting engagement opportunities over the coming months with all areas of the local community. We want to hear what people want from their town centre, so that together we can bring about changes that we can all be proud of.”

Carl Turner from Turner Works said: ”We are delighted to be working with North Somerset Council on this exciting project. For the vision to impact Weston-super-Mare positively, we need to talk to the experts, the people who know most about Weston, that includes businesses, residents and visitors. We need to find out what makes Weston tick, what do people love about Weston, what do they want more of? These conversations are integral to any future vision for Weston-super-Mare and we look forward to having them.”