What Norwich needs to continue to thrive as a top-ten shopping destination
PUBLISHED: 06:30 14 December 2011 | UPDATED: 11:32 14 December 2011
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The Evening News today investigates the future of our city's shops in the wake of a radical report which seeks to halt the decline of high streets.
Norwich is already ranked the ninth best in the country for shopping with £1.1billion expected to flow from shoppers purses to city centre tills this year.
But today we look at what more can be done to propel Norwich up the shopping league tables.
The report by Mary Portas, who presents BBC show Mary Queen of Shops, makes 28 suggestions to the Government on how to help the country’s ailing shopping centres.
Norwich is ahead of the game in introducing some of the recommendations, but to help the city grow even further the Evening News has talked to businesses, politicians, shoppers and decision-makers to come up with our shopping list for success.
•Control of our own business rates.
The government is in the middle of a consultation over handing powers to councils which would give them more control over business rates.
Councils could be allowed to keep more of the rates in the same way as council tax which means our council could spend the money on Norwich businesses.
•Improve park and ride.
After making a saving of £1m on the city’s park and ride earlier this year the county council now appears to be slowly investing again.
Postwick park and ride has reopened on Saturday and the scheme is being better advertised.
Now we need the toilets that used to be on the sites to reopen and more frequent buses at peak times
•Promote Norwich market.
Traders who have been paying more in rates and rents since the revamp feel they are not seeing the full benefits.
Advertising the market as a unique selling-point for Norwich would help
•Reduce the difference between out-of-town and city centre parking.
The difference between parking in out-of-town retail parks and the city centre needs to be narrowed.
Making parking in the city centre cheaper in the evening would give our shops a welcome boost after the working day.
•Slash rents for empty market stalls and shops.
We have 24 empty units in the market. There is no reason why they should not be filled.
•Favour independent shops.
While investment by John Lewis and Marks and Spencer in Norwich is fantastic, our smaller retailers are suffering.
They could be helped through banding together and being given the support of Norwich shoppers - Love Local!