Help on hand for dead High Streets, but …
EMPTY shops in Bath are being revitalized and re-purposed as part of a project to breathe new life into the town centre. Bath & North East Somerset Council’s Vacant Units Action Project finds new uses for empty retail units as part of a programme of support to help High Street recovery.
Local charity Share and Repair, which aims to help local people save money and the planet by reducing waste and repairing and reusing items, is opening a new shop at 3 York Buildings on George Street on August 11. The shop will house the charity’s ‘library of things’, carry out repairs and host ‘how-to’ workshops.
Fringe Arts Bath and Bath Fringe have recently taken over 5 Broad Street. Renamed ‘This is not a Shop’, the former retail unit is now hosting events, performances and art exhibitions Wednesdays to Sundays from 12noon to 5pm, until August 27.
Steve Henwood, Fringe Co-Director said: ‘Contemporary arts activity is an excellent antidote to the much-feared ‘decline of the High Street’. A city and community like Bath is well placed to run an endless creative stream of modern arts experiences at the drop of a shutter: all it needs is a little support and the artistic imagination, and suddenly we have a phenomenon which is good for everyone.’
The project forms part of the council’s High Streets Renewal programme and was awarded £500,000 from the West of England Combined Authority’s Recovery Fund. Alongside this, further match funding and in-kind support has been provided by the council and Bath BID.
Other vacant units across the city have been put to a variety of uses from the rapid Covid-19 testing centre at 3 Burton Street to the High Street Hub in Cheap Street which provides support and advice to businesses.
Earlier this summer, ‘In the Meanwhile’ brought art exhibitions and theatre performances to 17/18 Milsom Street and Milsom Place and a wide range of entertainment, events and activities for all the family are continuing throughout the summer with Summer Sundays.
Meanwhile, of course, charity stores, art shows and theatre exhibitions do not generate revenues needed by the council … and that very large empty Debenhams store in Southgate will take some filling!