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  • York’s city centre named second strongest in Britain

    In the latest report from Centre for Cities*, York is placed second for ‘Cities with the fewest high street vacancies 2017/18’.

    Placed just 0.1% behind the city of Cambridge, York has the second lowest percentage for high street vacancies at 7% for 2017/18. The result reflects the success of ongoing city centre initiatives, despite concerns nationally that online-retail is detracting footfall from city centres across the country.

    The report ‘City Centres: Past, Present and Future’ discusses the importance of variety in our city centres and to avoid an over-reliance on retail to attract residents, businesses and visitors. It also names the vital role of city centre ‘knowledge-based’ jobs in contributing to a healthy high street.

    Cllr Ian Gillies, Leader of City of York Council said, “The report offers an encouraging picture of the health of York’s city centre economy. The high street is a key priority for City of York Council and we must continue to work with partners to make a positive impact on its robustness and to secure continued growth.”

    Cllr Keith Aspden Executive member for economic development and community engagement said, “Efforts to further improve York’s city centre is an ongoing project, making our city centre fit for residents and businesses for years to come. The report from Centre for Cities is a motivation to continue this work and recognise its importance for the city’s economy”

    City of York Council works closely with York BID and Make it York to make the city centre a welcoming place, and provide a variety of events to attract a broad range of residents and visitors.

    And the council is leading a number of initiatives to make sure the city centre continues to offer the mix of events, retailers, good jobs, public spaces and family-friendly neighbourhoods which will see York city centre continue to buck the national trends.

    These include:

    • A full restoration and redevelopment of the Guildhall complex, creating 250 high value jobs through city centre office space and opening up the facilities to more residents than ever before. The unique scheme will bring an estimated £117m boost to the regional economy over the next five years.
    • Working with partners to unlock the potential of one of the country’s largest brownfield sites, York Central, to create vibrant neighbourhoods of up to 2500 homes, the first new park in a century and up to 100,000 sq m of commercial space for a new generation of jobs in the city.
    • The regeneration of the Castle Gateway area,  including new public and events space around Clifford’s Tower, opening up the Foss basin and transforming Piccadilly.
    • Maintaining a broad commercial portfolio, including property on Swinegate, to provide retail and office space to support economic activity in the city centre.
    • Investing £100,000 in a ‘My City Centre’ engagement exercise, exploring the future of the city centre, and the wider accessibility, safety and traffic management issues which will make sure everyone can continue to enjoy it.

    Andrew Sharp, Head of Business at Make It York said, “It is pleasing to see York feature strongly in this report. Despite some recent challenges, York retains a highly attractive city centre retail offer, with exceptional quality independents and top name brands, as well as a thriving leisure offer, making it one of the best retail locations in the north of England.

    “Having the right mix of commercial, residential, retail and leisure in our city centre is vitally important to the high street’s future and bringing forward planned developments at York Central and Castle Gateway will only serve to support this.”

    Andrew Lowson, Executive Director of York Business Improvement District said, “York has a great offer for locals and visitors from further afield. It has great independent shops, a thriving food and drink sector and some fantastic retail.  Combined with a year round events calendar, you can see why businesses want to locate to York and why the shop vacancy rates are so low.

    “At the same time, York BID refuses to be complacent, as we know some of our traditional shopping streets have large units that are vacant and create a poor impression. We continue to look at creative ways of helping the appearance, such as window wraps or pop up shops and working with partners to encourage new tenants.”

    Image credits: Visit York