Five ways to improve Wolverhampton's flagging city centre
Five steps to improving Wolverhampton's city centre have been outlined after residents said they struggled to think of anything positive to say about it.
The suggestions were presented to members of Wolverhampton Business Forum as part of a study into ways to revitalise the area.
The study was financed by leading businessman Henry Carver, who has spent £30,000 hiring experts from planning consultants Tibbalds and The Retail Group
A panel including West Midlands elected mayor Andy Street, Wolverhampton North East MP Jane Stevenson and former MP Rob Marris took questions from the audience, which included Tim Johnson, chief executive of Wolverhampton Council.
They were told that the city had many positive attributes, particularly relating to its history and shopping centres, but these often went unrecognised because they were poorly promoted.
Visitors arriving at the railway station were put off by the shabby approach to the centre of the city, and experiences of anti-social behaviour, the consultants added.
However, five ways to improve the city centre experience were put forward. They are:
Improve the experience for existing customers
Declutter and deep-clean approach routes
Add more greenery and trees
Encourage more seating and chairs outside shops as well as cafes and restaurants
Window-dress the main routeways, streets and premises
Enforcement against visible deterrents to visitors – beggars, dope smokers, street drinkers, amplified religious orators and 'miscellaneous vagabonds'
Improve the appeal to traditional customers
More family-friendly events and themed markets
More community, social and sporting events in city centre
More for workers and disenfranchised residents, targeting the 'lost 50 per cent'
Encourage more city centre living
Encourage destination visitors to use more of the city centre
Better connections between different attractions, with improved signs
Linked promotions for different activities
Make it easy for visitors to become customers by encouraging them to stay longer
Make better use of existing assets
Publish a trading opportunities prospectus to target new businesses
Draw up a plan for empty units, including long-term and short-term uses for unused buildings
More pop-up retailers, events markets, and street-food halls, art trails, concerts and Budapest-style 'ruin bars'
More marketing and promotion of the city centre
Develop a city centre brand that will be used by all
Better signposting and distinctive Wulfrunian branding
More external visibility of what the shopping centres have to offer, and overpower the negative images with better promotion of the positives