Chichester District Council's Cabinet agreed that supporting the Visions for Chichester, East Wittering and Bracklesham, Midhurst, Petworth, and Selsey was vitally important in light of the coronavirus crisis and the feedback received from the Vision groups will be used to reinvigorate the action plans and support given to the city and the towns.

At their meeting on Tuesday July 7, Cabinet also agreed that as part of the Chichester Vision, a special High Street Recovery and Transformation Group will be established, led by Councillor Martyn Bell, Cabinet Member for Property, Growth and Regeneration, who is a former city mayor. This will bring together key retailers, businesses and partners from across the city to ensure that priorities reflect what businesses in the area need as they continue on the road to recovery.

"Supporting the High Street is one of the key objectives of our economic development strategy and is a key action within the proposed COVID-19 recovery plan," explains Councillor Bell. "Following the coronavirus crisis, this work has now become more important than ever. Our high streets were already experiencing an extremely challenging environment pre-pandemic, and this has been exacerbated by coronavirus, and so we must do all that we can to support our businesses and high streets on their road to recovery.

"We have already been working to support our High Street businesses as they reopen and ensuring measures are put in place to enable visitors and businesses to follow the latest Government guidance.  As part of this work, we are pleased that there is some funding available to us to enable temporary changes to the High Street to be made."

Councillor Alan Sutton, Cabinet Member for Housing, Communications, Licensing and Events, says: "Supporting the Vision projects is vital, as they provide an opportunity to consider the needs of residents, workers and visitors and set aims for how the areas might develop both commercially and culturally, providing opportunities for economic growth and job creation."

"Our officers have been working closely with businesses to find out what other support they will need in future, as well as liaising with local partners such as the Chichester BID and other business organisations. This work will link with the different town Visions. We are also working closely with The Great Sussex Way (formerly Visit Chichester) to promote the city and we have led the Supporting Local campaign, aimed at reassuring members of the public that our high streets are safe for people to visit."

The High Street Recovery and Transformation Group aims to:

  • Deliver targeted support programmes to retail businesses and other businesses seeking to locate in the district's town centres.

  • Work with the Chichester BID (Business Improvement District) and other organisations across the district to pro-actively support businesses that can contribute to a more diversified offer.

  • To support and develop the evening and night-time economy offer.

  • To support transformation of the high street.

  • Engage with the Government's High Street Task Force to utilise their emerging support.

  • To work with the Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to develop 'safer cities'.

Chair of Chichester BID, Brendon Cook, says: "Chichester's businesses are currently facing the biggest challenge they have ever, and probably will ever, experience, and we all need to work together to help our High Street pull through the crisis. We look forward to being part of the High Street Recovery and Transformation Group and working on projects that ensure that Chichester continues to be a successful and safe place for people to shop, dine and do business in."

Dianne Lambdin, of Chichester Chamber of Commerce and Industry, will be participating in this work to ensure chamber members' views are represented on the group. She says: "Finding practical solutions are essential to help sustain the business community and this needs to be inclusive of the many industry sectors that exist within the city.  The chamber are also looking at how we can bring all the businesses together through networking and social media as exemplified by their recent initiative with #lovechibiz which has already been adopted by many local businesses."

Find out more information about the different Vision projects at City and town visions.

Date of release: 8 July 2020

Reference: 3895