Investment is key for towns

This week I thought I would write this column as Amber Valley Borough Councils Regeneration Manager rather than Heanor Town Team chair.

A new report called a Guide to Retailing in 2018 states that the number of high street stores is expected to fall by 19.9 per cent over the next five years under the combined pressures of high costs, consumer reluctance to spend and rapid growth of online retailing.

This makes grim reading for all of us working to regenerate Amber Valley’s town centres – but there are sections within the report which offer some hope. The first suggests the areas growing with new housing and young families will be less affected.

Town centres which invest in turning empty shops into good residential accommodation and seek to provide good leisure facilities, community rooms and doctor’s surgeries will also be less hit by the shrinking high street.

The borough council is a key agent in promoting renewed economic growth required to strengthen the local economy. Our draft Core Strategy contains strategic policies for securing necessary new housing and employment land within the borough.

With less government funding available we are looking for new ways to deliver needed infrastructure in the borough. It is anticipated that a planning application for the construction of the A610 between Ripley and Codnor, with the associated proposals for housing and further open space, will be submitted by the end of July. We are seeing the Heanor town centre once again become a place for local people with the redevelopment of the market and other projects. This has happened because community and business groups got together and came to the council with credible ideas for projects. I hope we can use this model in taking forward regeneration in Ripley town centre too.