The decline of high streets is a concern for many people in Gwynedd, but Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig are trying to tackle this issue using creative solutions!
The high street was the focal point for communities all over Wales. It offered job opportunity, a place for small businesses to thrive and was the driving force for the local and regional economy. Today the local high street is challenged by the huge increase in online shopping, shopping centres and large supermarkets. All these factors have had a detrimental effect on our high street which has contributed largely to the decline around town centres across Wales.
Ioan Thomas, Gwynedd Council Cabinet Member for Economic Development explains:
"Today users are looking for a range of experiences on our high streets, from shopping to leisure to entertainment to health services. Today our high streets should offer a unique experience that people can’t find anywhere else."
Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig are looking for 3 communities to work with to trial new and innovative ideas that will increase the number of visitors to the street, that will in turn increase the number of visitors to the area and increase spending in the local area.
Some of the ideas that can be piloted are art installations, street furniture, street signs and activities e.g. performances or a digital carnival. The idea should be an attraction that draws visitors to the area and will help show what the street/area has to offer.
A similar example can be found in Portugal where hundreds of colourful umbrellas were placed high above the streets as part of the art festival AgitÁgueda. Every July since 2011 this art installation has attracted thousands of people to the area after pictures of the umbrellas were shared online. This has been an extremely popular idea which has been recreated on a street in Liverpool recently. It’s also possible to think outside of the box when it comes to street furniture, e.g. in London many Smart Benches, which are solar powered, have been installed around the city. As well as offering a place to sit, it has multiple phone chargers built in, free WiFi and lets you make a charity donation through a contactless payment.
Carwyn Ap Myrddin, Arloesi Gwynedd Wledig Project Officer explains:
"The street/area will be expected to develop innovative and exciting projects that will highlight what makes their area unique. You will need contacts within the community, especially within the business community and volunteers that are ready to commit time to coordinate and implement the plan."
For more information and to download an application form visit: Unique Streets Project – Open call, or contact Carwyn on email: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01766 515946.
This project has received funding through the Welsh Government Rural Communities - Rural Development Programme 2014-2020, which is funded by the European Agricultural Fund for Rural Development and the Welsh Government. It’s also part funded by the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority (NDA) and Gwynedd Council.