Businesses have been asked to share their ideas for the redevelopment and regeneration of their Nottinghamshire town. A total of £1.5m has been secured by Newark and Sherwood District Council for capital improvements in the town, and almost 100 town centre businesses have shared their ideas on what the money should be used for.
These ideas include improved security measures, increased seating, and improved signage. The funding comes as part of The Cultural Heart of Newark, which is one of eight priority projects identified in Newark Towns Fund Board’s successful bid to the government for £25m in funding to improve the historic town centre.
When asked what she would like to see done with the funding, Aliki Allen, co-owner of the Bean Block Cafe, explained that she would like to see more events organised. She said: "I think more events would be good to bring more people into the town as the events we have are great.
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"They could do more things like that so there is something in the town square each weekend." Fellow co-owner, Cate Martin added: "Making it a cultural hub would be good and also having more parks as the park facilities in Newark are dire compared to other places.
"They are just not great for the amount of people and families, and we are trying to encourage families to the area but there's no parks."
Co-owner of Simply Sweet, James Singer, also has ideas for what the money could be used for. He explained: "The problem is there are so many different things that would be beneficial but we can't have everything. Better signage throughout the town to help direct visitors and something like an electronic information board, so people can see what is where, a bit like when you go to a shopping centre.
"There are so many different things that we would like in an ideal world, but links with some of the tourist groups would be good. So that when the tourists come they get given information about the town and what's in the town, or like a town guide that could meet people and direct them around."
He added: "Some free parking times would be good, as some of the other towns like Southwell offer a limited amount of time for free parking."
Manager of Wiseguys and Wisegirls, Zoeb Hassanali, also feels free or reduced parking charges would benefit the town centre.
Zoeb said: "I think the parking is a problem as they raise the price and then people don't want to come in to town. The car parking prices, especially for a small town, need to be reduced if we want to bring people into Newark.
"At the end of the day people rely on car parks at a reasonable price, especially if they want to spend all day here. If the parking fees keep going up then people might as well go to Lincoln."
He explained that the market itself also needs more support as "it's the market stalls that are bringing in the community and keeping people in town." Zoeb added: "I think it needs promoting as that's a beautiful market square and we if we don't do something with it then people will just go somewhere else.
"We need to help the traders and support them, especially our local farmers, to bring in revenue. Bringing the market stall holders back and giving them some incentives on that."
Speaking about the funding, owner of Petit Versailles, Hajra Kemari, said: "That money will be great. What I have found as a retailer is that there are so many shops empty, I don't know if they could reduce the rent to get people coming in.
"It's so quiet, if they could use the funding to maybe organise something. When I first moved here we had a lot of tourists coming from other places and that made the town busy and also the market place, we don't have a lot of traders in now."
Hajra continued: "I don't know if its the high rent, so if they could use the fund to help reduce rents that would be good. Also people don't always feel safe in town.
"Maybe the police need to do more and this fund could bring more police into the town every week. We can see shops being broken into and windows broken."
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