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Retail experts drafted in for shopping map
9:51pm Friday 31st August 2012 in Local news
Retail experts are being called in to help map out shopping needs across the district for the next 15 years.
They are about to embark on a far-reaching study to “get into the minds” of shoppers.
The investigation, to be carried out by an international consultancy firm during the next two months, will look into retail spending, shopping patterns and the performance of town centres across the Bradford district, including Ilkley.
Consultants from Leeds-based WYG, who have worked for Bradford Council since 2007, are aiming to assess future retail floor space requirements and shape the local authority’s future retail planning and decision-making up to 2026.
They will conduct telephone interviews with 1,800 households about where people have shopped since 2008, their internet shopping habits and what they like and dislike about the district’s retail centres.
WYG will also examine how the recession has affected local shopping patterns, and the vitality and viability of local centres.
The study will also include face-to-face street interviews in Ilkley, as well as an online survey of businesses in the five centres, which also include Bradford, Shipley, Bingley and Keighley.
Businesses will be formally invited to respond to a series of questions seeking to discover what hinders their trading performance, future requirements and desires, and what improvements are needed for the area to thrive.
Findings from the investigation will be fed into the council’s core strategy development plan document, which is due to go out for public consultation later this year. It is intended to guide future development into key growth areas, and ensure regeneration and planning priorities can be delivered in the long term.
Paul Shuker, associate at WYG in Leeds, said: “Creating vibrant and viable town centres is extremely complex, and there is no ‘one fix-all solution’ to encourage vibrancy and growth.”
Bradford Council leader Councillor David Green said the study would cost up to £40,000, and was needed to enable the authority to draw up its Local Development Plan, which will outline the recommended designated use of land and geographic areas across Bradford district into sites for retail, business, residential or leisure. The LDP will go before a planning inspector next year.
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