Retail expert Bill Grimsey has spent today (Monday) in the City of Wolverhampton after being invited by city council leaders to give his verdict on their plans to reshape the city centre.
City of Wolverhampton Council recognises it must play a leading role in driving the city centre economy forward.
It is to establish a commission to further develop its strategic vision as mapped out by a July report - ‘Enabling a Vibrant City Centre’ – which was put together by the council’s city centre taskforce.
This follows a core recommendation in the national Grimsey Review 2 which looks at ways to deliver a sustainable high street in the wake of a challenging national retail climate where stores are closing.
Author of the review, Grimsey, met with Deputy Leader, Councillor Peter Bilson, Managing Director, Tim Johnson, and other senior regeneration officials, who outlined the challenges City of Wolverhampton is facing and explained their vision for the city centre.
The former Wickes and Iceland chief, who first looked at ways to revive the high street in an influential 2013 national review, was also given a tour of Wolverhampton city centre.
“I’ve been very impressed with the people I’ve met today and the calibre of people – from the Deputy Leader and Managing Director to the officers.
“The local authority has to be the leader in terms of place. They own things like planning, highways education and health. They need to lead the community - and the community will respond.
“With the right vision and determination, the council will make the biggest difference in Wolverhampton.
“They need to create a purposed place for a new world where technology is influencing people. I think they recognise that and they are going to get on and do it. They get my 100 per cent encouragement to do that.”
Cllr Bilson, added:
“We are delighted Bill accepted our invitation to spend the day with us in our city centre.
“His knowledge of the UK high street and retail is immense and we were keen for him to give his thoughts on our plans.
“More than £1 billion of investment is on site or planned for the city centre and it is vital we lead the way in getting the strategy right.
“Taking advice and support from experts like Bill should ensure we reshape our city centre into a vibrant and thriving place for residents and visitors.”
Issued by the City of Wolverhampton Council’s Corporate Communications Team. For more information, please call 01902 555439.
Image caption (L-R): City of Wolverhampton Council Managing Director, Tim Johnson, and Deputy Leader, Cllr Peter Bilson, flank Bill Grimsey (centre)