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Blackburn named best high street in Britain

Mark Moran
13 December 2016

Blackburn in Lancashire has won the top prize at the annual Great British High Street Awards. The competition, now in its third year, attracted over 900 entries from villages, market towns and larger towns across the UK.

The competition recognises work done to promote city locations, town centres, large market towns, small market towns, coastal communities, villages as well as local centres. The winners are selected by a jury, who visited 42 shortlisted locations. There is also one public vote, which saw Hebden Bridge named the ‘People’s Choice’. 

Winners in each category get a share of a prize pot worth £100,000.

The competition is run by the Future High Street Forum, a not-for-profit body that brings together retail, property and businesses to promote ideas that will help town centres compete with online and out-of-town retailers. 

Great British High Street 2017 winners

Overall Winner and Best Local Centre: Blackburn, Lancashire - The jury was impressed by enhancements to the town centre implemented by Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council and the town’s Business Improvement District. The jury said: “The town is an inspiration to high streets across the country.”

City: The Cathedral Quarter, Derby, Derbyshire - The Cathedral Quarter is home to 450 retail, professional and leisure sector businesses. The jury said: “In an incredibly close category, Derby took the lead with its hard work to attract inward investment and turn the Cathedral Quarter into a respected brand.” 

Large Market Town: Bridgnorth, Shropshire - A partnership of local residents is tapping into the town’s history to attract visitors, who are encouraged to use a park & ride scheme. The jury said: “From great events using local history to its innovative park & ride scheme, Bridgnorth really impressed the judges and galvanized the local community to vote.” 

Small Market Town and People’s Choice: Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire - Despite floods in 2015, the high street boasts a 95% occupancy rate. The jury said: “The 2015 floods clearly have not dampened the resilience, determinism and passion for the market town.” The town received a record 40,000 votes, also gaining it the ‘People’s Choice’ Award.

Coastal Community: Falmouth, Cornwall - The local authority works closely with the Business Improvement District and Town Team to market the town. The jury said: “The strong marketing and events on offer, and the lowest vacancy rate in the south-west, blew the jury away.”

Local Centre: Hoole, Cheshire - This suburb of Chester was named ‘Best Newcomer’ in 2015. This year, the jury said: “By working with both independents and national retailers, and a commitment to delivering events to grow the local economy, the team have put Hoole on the map.”

Village: Pateley Bridge, North Yorkshire - This small village high street has reduced the number of empty units from 12 to just one over an 18-month period. With its community spirit, social media campaign and its commitment to supporting local retailers.

Rising Star: Stockton-on-Tees, Durham - The Rising Star Award recognises high streets that are turning their fortunes around. The jury said: “The extraordinary transformation from its industrial past to visitor destination means Stockton now pulls in crowds of up to 65,000 and its ‘Rediscover Stockton’ website and app offers businesses their own free web space to upload offers.”

London: Myddleton Road, Haringey - The best high street in London was one where local people and businesses have worked together. The jury said: “The community has rallied around their local high street, putting on a range of events, working with local partners such as the school, to create a really strong online presence through Twitter and local online forums using the ‘We Love Myddleton Road’ brand.

The competition recognises individuals who are working to make high streets successful. The 2016 High Street Heroes are:

  • Best Independent Store Manager or Employee: Adam Makey, Niche Comics, Huntingdon
  • Best National Store Manager or Employee: Zabir Khonat, M&S, Camden
  • Retail Market Champion: Nicola Martin, Tameside Markets
  • Best Under-25: Emily Cotterill, Winchester Business Improvement District

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