Positive change for St Leonards

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DESPITE an unsuccessful attempt to secure £100,000 of government money, the team behind the St Leonards ‘Portas Pilot’ bid are determined to improve the town centre.

The ‘Portas Pilot’ regeneration scheme saw town centres receive a share of £1 million to put towards implementing some of retail guru Mary Portas’s recommendations.

What became clear through the bidding process was the desire for change in St Leonards, and the number of people who were willing to commit.

Council leader and councillor for Central St Leonards Jeremy Birch said: “I am delighted with the way the St Leonards pulled together to produce two excellent bids with some fantastic ideas. I would like to thank everyone involved for all their efforts. I believe we can still implement some of the Portas ideas, especially the idea of a Town Team bringing together businesses, the community and public bodies.”

The idea is for the Town Team to take the lead on drawing up plans for improvements, with the wider community able to get involved and take ownership of their town centre.

Terry Drinkwater, the council’s neighbourhood coordinator, said that the aim was to make St Leonards town centre a destination in itself.

He said: “We are trying to make it much more of a social space, with markets and attractions to draw people along the seafront.

“We want to make it cleaner and safer, and improve parking and the evening economy.”

As well as working on marketing and branding St Leonards, he said that the focus will also be on housing renewal and commercial regeneration.

The Town Team will include council officers and councillors, Local Space housing agency, and representatives from the local business community.