Town centre will lead new investments

Local surveys and workshops are helping to shape plans to support the night-time economy in Newark as it continues to recover from the effects of the past two years – Melanie Burton reports.

In a bid to help get the town centre back on track and make it a place where businesses are flourishing and that people want to visit, residents in Newark and Sherwood have been surveyed to find out if any issues need addressing and what they think about the evening and night-time economy, on which the Covid-19 pandemic has had a particularly detrimental effect.

Newark and Sherwood District Council ran the survey with the aim of creating an ‘Evening and Night-time Economy Strategy’. As well as the public survey, a series of workshops are being run with local businesses, tourism attractions, community groups and hospitality providers; a night-time field study is being organised, and a specialist consultant is being employed to help set realistic short, medium and long-term actions.

It is aimed at establishing a vibrant, inclusive and safe evening and night-time economy and it is hoped that the strategy will result in greater footfall, dwell time and visitor spending during the evening and night-time, promoting economic growth and providing opportunities for businesses post-pandemic.

The survey assessed the town’s current concerns including safety, lack of provision and transportation issues and then looked at what the public wanted from the town centre such as late night shopping and markets, the promotion of heritage assets through late openings of attractions and night-time tours and early evening entertainment and cultural facilities such as the theatre, cinema and art galleries.

Changes to cafés, restaurant and bar services, street performances and outdoor evening events during the summer to make greater use of open spaces and longer periods of daylight, festive events during the winter and changes in the operation of leisure facilities such as sports centres, libraries, bowling alleys and activity centres were also considered.

Leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, Councillor David Lloyd, said: “This strategy comes at a really crucial time for our economy. It is vital that we do all we can to help businesses flourish and fulfil their potential after what has been an incredibly challenging time for our town centres following the pandemic.

“However, equally as important is providing something that the community wants.

“The feedback from residents, businesses and various groups will inform our work on the Evening and Night-time Strategy to make sure it reflects what is needed, and importantly wanted, in our town centres.”

Combined with the survey, a range of ambitious projects for the town is picking up pace and the next two to three years will see some huge changes and developments in the historic town centre.

It follows Newark Towns Fund Board’s successful submission for £25 million to the government’s Towns Fund initiative, designed to help improve town centres across the UK.

Councillor Lloyd, who is also co-chair of the Towns Fund Board explained: “Since the successful application to government, there has been a lot of hard work going on in the background in order to bring these aspirational projects to fruition.

“Residents may have seen some changes that some projects are bringing to the area, with new buildings being developed or regenerated, but it is important to recognise that others too are making leaps and bounds towards their physical implementation.”

Newark’s Town Investment Plan focused on nine priority projects for the district.

The International Air Space and Training Institute (IASTI), which will create new jobs locally and nationally, not just in aviation but also engineering, welcomed its first students in temporary accommodation.

But their future dreams took another step forward when the planning application for the IASTI’s permanent home was approved in February.

Work will start on the site on Great North Road later this year.

The IASTI is just one project that will help transform the educational provision in Newark for young people.

Work has already been completed on the expansion of Newark Construction College, which has created brand new educational opportunities for local residents in innovative construction, and has also upskilled local people in trades such as gas fitting, bricklaying and stonemasonry.

In addition, behind the scenes work is progressing on developing a ‘Smart Innovation, Supply Chain and Logistics Enterprise Area’ for businesses along the Great North Road zone. Feedback from a consultation with existing local businesses is being used to inform what university courses are required to ensure that local people are training to meet the needs of this brand new enterprise hub, which will not only create a centre of logistical excellence with regional and national reach but provide hundreds of jobs for local people.

Focusing on improving the visitor experience in Newark is also a key pillar of the ambition for Newark and projects to increase footfall in the town centre will be welcomed by local retailers and hospitality providers.

Councillors voted to allocate £570,000 for repairs to Newark Castle, following a recent condition survey of the site. Home to treasured memories and a vital town centre green space, the Castle is important not only to local residents but also nationally.

It is one of the district’s best-loved landmarks and Historic England has designated it an Ancient Monument due to its significance as the place of death of King John in 1216; its architectural and archaeological worth, having the most complete example of a Romanesque gatehouse in England; and, as the home of Bishop Alexander the Magnificent, being one of the few remaining episcopal residences in England.

Plans to sympathetically restore the Castle Gatehouse include transforming it into an immersive visitor experience filled with fascinating interpretation about its 900-year story, a new entrance on Beastmarket Hill, an accessible entrance pavilion, a visitor reception in the grounds and a separate facility beneath the Gatehouse Bridge, which will host educational outreach activities and events and act as a community hub.

Work is also continuing on all other projects to transform Newark into a town which embraces cycling, walking, public transport and enhancing green routes.

Current projects in the town centre include repurposing the town’s currently empty former Marks & Spencer building, increasing residential premises while also providing incentivised rents and rates to new retail units.

Planning permission has now been granted for the redevelopment, which will see the creation of 29 new homes and two to four new retail units whilst retaining the art deco façade. The new site will also provide an opportunity to reinstate historic links by removing the eastern projection of the building to give visibility from Lombard Street to Stodman Street, improving the pedestrian thoroughfare, increasing the public realm, and returning the area to the historic layout of the town, all of which is aimed at increasing visitor numbers, which will be welcomed by local businesses, retailers and hospitality providers.

NEW VOLUNTEER SCHEME
A project aiming to help youngsters in Newark and the surrounding area who are disengaged from mainstream education start their career journey has been launched.

Volunteer It Yourself (VIY) is giving young people aged 16-24 the opportunity to sign up for the project and gain on-the-job construction training, new vocational skills and mentoring support from professional tradespeople. They will also receive City and Guilds Entry Level 3 accreditations in construction skills and support with further training, work placement and apprenticeship opportunities.

VIY is looking to offer this opportunity to local youth groups, charities, youth organisations, schools and colleges in the area working with young people who are not engaged in education, employment or training (NEET) or at risk of becoming NEET.

Volunteer It Yourself combines DIY and volunteering by helping young people learn vocational trade skills whilst helping repair and refurbish community facilities.

Newark Amateur Boxing Club, a family ethos club, has already benefitted from the project having the interior of the boxing gym redecorated, an alleyway redone and useful changes made to the back area of the boxing gym. This month the project will be helping Farnsfield Cricket Club, which has just started a girls team. VIY will be converting a current storage room into a girls’ changing room, which will involve a safety floor, repainting, benches and hooks and repainting some of the other changing rooms and bathrooms.

CEO of VIY, Tim Reading said: “We’re delighted to see young people, skills and employability outcomes recognised across this fund, three things at the heart of our VIY mission, and we’re delighted to be delivering on these priorities on local community projects, working directly with young people, communities and people in the trade across the area.”

VIY is a recipient of the Community Renewal Fund grant designed to invest in communities, young people and boost skills, and is running 23 projects across the county this year. Councillor David Lloyd, leader of Newark and Sherwood District Council, said: “By taking part in one of VIYs projects, young people who are disengaged from mainstream schooling will be able to gain vital skills, experiences and qualifications, allowing them to find a meaningful career that they will enjoy and find fulfilling.”

FREE BUSINESS EVENT
Businesses based in and around Newark are being encouraged to think globally and learn about procurement.

A new free event is taking place at the Everyday Champions Centre in the town for local businesses looking for inspiration and encouragement to catapult their business into the global market, as well as learn about the procurement process and how to create an effective tender.

In partnership with AJB Business and Marketing Consultant and Welland Procurement, Newark and Sherwood District Council is hosting the ‘Global Innovation and Nimble Thinking’ event on 14th April.

The event is split into two sessions. Attendees will first hear from senior global lawyer and retail expert James Batham on how the global industry ticks and how to create clear and concise objectives that they can use in their business. Then they will hear from senior procurement officer at Welland Procurement, Paul Large, on supplying to the public sector.

Business and marketing consultants Amanda Batham and Sarah Harling will also deliver a session on what a tender should look like and how a business should communicate with its target audience.

There will also be the opportunity to take part in one of two breakout groups dealing with business mapping for small businesses – how to solve your problems and create a new business plan and how to develop great communications.

In addition, there will be allocated time for attendees to network throughout the day.

Councillor Keith Girling, chairman of Newark and Sherwood District Council’s Economic Development Committee, said: “It’s an important time for businesses to diversify and increase their skills, this includes understanding the procurement process and how they can maximise their opportunities and learn about the global business industry.

“We remain committed to supporting our local businesses and are excited to announce the Global Innovation and Nimble Thinking event. Businesses will receive invaluable information that they can use to grow and thrive.”

FUN, FOOD AND FARMING ON OFFER AT THE NOTTINGHAMSHIRE COUNTY SHOW
With its mix of fun, food and farming, the Nottinghamshire County Show has always been a great family day out – and it’s back for 2022!

Perfect for children keen to see farmyard animals up close and learn about countryside life, the event takes place on 14th May at the Newark Showground.

The Nottinghamshire County Show is organised by the Newark and Nottinghamshire Agricultural Society and is one of the earliest county shows in the UK events calendar.

It’s being billed as a showcase of the best of what Nottinghamshire has to offer, including a food and drink festival, shopping and craft stalls, a dog show, countryside games and even a wacky lawnmower race.

Save now and book your advanced tickets online at www.nottinghamshirecountyshow.com.
Admission is free for children aged 16 and under. For more information please
visit the website.

BREATHE NEW LIFE INTO YOUR KITCHEN AND BATHROOM
Is your kitchen or bathroom looking a bit tired and unloved after a long, weary winter? Would you love to create a good looking and relaxing family-friendly space which reflects your own individual taste and lifestyle within an affordable budget?

The solution lies in consulting the helpful professionals at Turnbull, the well established family-run business, whose many loyal customers remain dedicated to buying local and supporting a trusted brand which has built an unrivalled reputation for delivering on both quality and service.

More than just a builders’ merchant, as the largest independent merchant in Lincolnshire and Nottinghamshire, the friendly, experienced team of design consultants at Turnbull Kitchens & Bathrooms have been designing kitchens and bathrooms for more than 40 years.

This dedicated team offer free design and planning services, including home visits and measuring service, and can help you with inspirational ideas, designs of floorplans, as well as technical advice such as improving space flow and more.

At their extensive showroom on Northern Road in Newark you will find modern German kitchens from Rotpunkt, as well as classic and contemporary styles from Sheraton and Symphony Kitchens, together with the latest kitchen appliances in working displays from NEFF and Quooker, plus luxury European bathroom brands such as Duravit and Merlyn.

Turnbull also provides free hyper-realistic 3D renders of interior spaces to customers, so you can see your vision before you buy.

Enjoy a visit to the award-winning showroom in person: Turnbull Kitchens & Bathrooms, Northern Road, Newark, Nottinghamshire NG24 2EU. Call 01636 675466, or make an appointment with one of the design experts online: www.turnbull.co.uk/showrooms/

Photographs: Mick Fox



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