No-one who lives in or around Heanor can have helped but notice the decline in our town centre, despite all the hard work of a number of local groups and organisations, including the Heanor Traders Association, Heanor Town Team and the Heanor Regeneration Board.
However, it seems that our High Street, like so many High Streets up and down the country, will probably never again be the retail and shopping centre it once was.
With the advent of out-of-town retail parks and the internet, our shopping habits and preferences have changed irrevocably - people just don't want to spend their time and money shopping in the High Streets of smaller towns anymore.
So what is the future of Heanor High Street? Our Town Team firmly believes the future lies in the digital age!
In September Derby College will open their brand new Digital Studio School on the site of the old Mundy Street campus, bringing up to 300 14-19 years olds right into our town centre. As well as the standard National Curriculum, students will specialise in a range of digital courses, including games development, software design, IT or Systems and Network Design.
As part of the concept of studying at this new Studio School, all students will be expected to undertake work experience in relevant, related industries. And with super-fast broadband available in the Heanor Gate Industrial Estate, and fibre-optic throughout the whole town, it seems a perfect match to concentrate on attracting businesses and professionals in the digital and creative industries to set-up in Heanor.
If the right type of business can be enticed to take on offices and commercial space in the town centre (maybe occupying first floor space, or even converting empty shops into offices and workshops) then the Town Team expects that a thriving consumer-based sector will follow. Coffee shops, bistros, bars, meeting places, leisure facilities and services that cannot be purchased on the internet will move to serve this new type of user.
It may be that existing retail will need to adapt to fit in with the new order, as much of the offering in the town centre will naturally shift to slightly later in the day. Professionals, workers and students alike will be leaving their offices around 5pm, and will be looking for somewhere to go, somewhere to spend social time with friends and relax before heading off home. Heanor's High Street will come alive between the hours of 5 and 9pm, and smart retailers will take full advantage of that.
The Town Team are now working to produce an Investor Prospectus for the town, setting out the plans and vision for the future, and written to encourage the right sort of business into Heanor.
However, this isn't going to be a quick fix, or a process that can happen in a few short months. It will take the bravery and belief of a few early adopters to buy into the vision and take the first few places in the town, with other similar or complimentary businesses then following their lead before Heanor can start to become the digital hub of Derbyshire
Anyone interested in finding out more about the plans, or potentially investing in the town should contact Laura West, Clerk to Heanor and Loscoe Town Council, on 01773 533050, or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Hi, I'm Sarah. I've lived in Heanor with my family for over 10 years and I'm passionate about our beautiful little corner of this historical county. If you know of something that's great about our area,...