High Street Task Force meet for the first time
Wakefield Council recently hosted the district's first ever High Street Task Force in which key local stakeholders came together to discuss the future of Wakefield city centre.
Representatives from the Council, Wakefield College, NewRiver – the owner of Ridings Shopping Centre, Wakefield Cathedral, Wakefield Business Improvement District, West Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Youth Parliament, The Hepworth and West Yorkshire Police formed the group which met on Monday 24 June.
The group discussed what's next for Wakefield and the need to be proactive in times when our high streets are changing rapidly.
One of the main talking points was the need to get people back onto the district's high streets and the ways to achieve that, by attracting new businesses, improving city centre living and bringing new experiences to our town centres.
Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council
Cllr Peter Box CBE, Leader of Wakefield Council, said: "There was a huge amount of experience in the room and it was great to be able to bring all those people together to develop plans for the future.
"There was some really interesting thoughts about the changes we need to make and how we need to be in charge of shaping the future of our district.
"We now all intend to get out into the centre of Wakefield and ask visitors, residents and partners for their ideas on how we can restore pride in the area, which will complement the recent survey carried out by the Wakefield Express, and help the Task Force in shaping our plans going forward."
The date for this event will be confirmed in July.
The High Street Task Force will meet quarterly. It was agreed that the Task Force's other key piece of work is commissioning a new Masterplan for Wakefield city centre which will steer future development by reimagining and redesigning what the city centre looks and feels like. Shorter term projects that address pressing issues like perceptions of safety and redeveloping the Civic Quarter will be overseen by the Task Force in parallel.
The Task Force was a commitment made by Cllr Box at the High Street Summit in March, which brought together a wide range of partners from more than 60 organisations who shared ideas on how to revive and improve the district's city and town centres.
It was also a recommendation of the highly respected retail expert Bill Grimsey who visited Wakefield in April. Grimsey also told councillors that Wakefield needs a Masterplan to take it through to 2050 and to think about the vision not the money.
Cllr Peter Box and Cllr Denise Jeffery at the High Street Task Force