Boscombe high street could be revamped with a new futuristic look if a current bid is successful.
Boscombe’s own ‘Coastal Bid’ is taking part in a nationwide bid for £25m. They are competing for a Government fund along with 500 others and only 50 will be selected.
However if selected the high street would have a totally different look with a community hub that will embrace brand new technology allowing local people to access local information as well as share their own events.
Coastal Bid manager, Stefan Krause said: “We are convinced that we have all the tools in place and we could quickly turn this into something exciting.”
Stories in the media lately have stressed the decline of the high street but without offering future solutions.
However a new panel chaired by Sir John Timpson, founder of Timpson’s chain of key cutting stores has called for investment into a new community space as the old ways are now defunct largely due to online shopping.
For Boscombe traders though other ideas for its so called decline have been put forward. All agree that there is loss of trading but disagree as to the reasons.
The manager of ‘Fludes Carpets’ Nigel Slater, believes that rising closures are due to bad management but a spokes person for Timpson’s in the precinct said: “I’d say 50% internet and the other 50% is down to too many shops,” (Offering the same service such as hairdressers.)
However Richard Slade, co-owner of the successful Boscanova Cafe in the precinct believes that rents are too high along with business rates. He also hinted at the internet.
Popular opinion, echoed by the mainstream media promotes a bleak future for high streets everywhere.
The Centre for Retail Research went as far as to say that, ‘Dystopia is close to reality’.
Statistics seem to back up this view stating that 11,000 businesses have gone bust since 2008 affecting 140,000 employees.
However positive thinkers like Sir John Timpson and Stefan Krause are optimistic and excited about the future.
Also a think tank called ‘Portas’ said in a statement: “We need to put the heart back into the centre of our high streets, re-imagined as destinations for: socialising; culture; health; well being; creativity and learning.”
Stefan Krause said that high streets changing are nothing new and radical change happens every 50 years. He is looking forward to a new community hub that he says, ‘will bring the community together.’
Some have looked to the past to call for a Victorian style high street. Sue Major, a York historian, said: “With heavier traffic people are less likely to spend time there for leisure. She added, “In the past (they) went for entertainment and leisure.”
Recent changes however have been explained in a more positive light by Stefan Krause. He said there is no emergency and vacant businesses will be taken over by new entrepreneurs.
Outlets like the happy Buddha closed because of a change of direction. Others outgrew their location opening up branches elsewhere.
He went on to say that there was a high rate of national chains with high debts which had to give way to independent businesses. In fact he sees the new Boscombe high street as having all independent outlets.
The old ways, he says, no longer function such as an individual using Google for local information. Services such as local housing, policing and health are currently at separate locations. All this will be overhauled by a community hub on one platform with all services.
Innovative new technology will play a major part in the new look Boscombe and hopefully it will encourage discussion and engagement.
Google has recently developed new technology that will cater for this and is revolutionary in its outlook.
The new plan will offer hope to those concerned about the future. A spokesperson for Timpson’s in the Precinct said: “God knows unless they actually do something with the
Government to come up with a plan to get the high street going again.”
His concerns were echoed by Timpson’s co-founder Sir John Timpson who is in talks with the Government to revolutionise the high streets of Britain. He is asking for a similar thing to Coastal bid.
He said: “By helping our towns create their own individual community hub. I believe we will have vibrant town centres to provide a much needed place for face to face contact in the digital era.
The Government, after setting up an expert panel chaired by Jake Berry MP, has responded with a £675m future high street fund which they say will invigorate high streets.
Councils were invited to bid. However Bournemouth Council would not comment.