COLOURFUL plans to create a “brighter Pontefract” have been revealed – and community leaders are asking Queen of Shops Mary Portas for her help.
Members of Pontefract Town Centre Partnership have submitted a £100k bid for government cash to paint the Georgian town centre shop fronts in “heritage-approved colours” to attract more retailers and shoppers to the precinct.
Earlier this year, TV retail expert Ms Portas and local government minister Grant Shapps launched a competition to choose 12 towns to become Portas Pilots – with the winners benefiting from a share of £1m to help turn around their “unloved and unused” high streets.
Allan Blaza, of the group, said if successful, the group would use the cash to paint the first and second floor frontages of buildings of “architectural or historical value” and create brighter awnings for the town’s market stalls.
He told the Express: “Many of the buildings in the town centre are 18th century but have a bland, unimaginative sameness of colour – magnolia for the most part – which disguises their individual design and character as well as presenting an uninspiring mediocrity to the street scene.
“We want to paint them using an approved heritage guide, with the support of listed buildings officers, to brighten up the town – making it more alluring to shoppers and retailers.
“Pontefract has some stunning buildings but at the moment it hides them away. There’s a bustling atmosphere on market days, but we want to see that every day of the week.
“We want to create a brighter Pontefract for a brighter future.”
Pontefract’s Carleton Community High School pupils Bethany Hinchliffe, 13, Emma Gibson, 14, and Louise Stevenson, 13, have also joined the bid with their plan to transform an empty shop into a youth centre and cafe for young people in the town.
Emma said: “We love our town centre but there’s not much for young people to do. We want to modernise it and give young people a place to go.”
Former MP Bill O’Brien, who is supporting the bid, said the group had put together its bid in five weeks with support from Wakefield Council.
He said: “We’re delighted young people have got involved in the bid. They came up with the idea on their own, before we started to put of application together. This investment is needed.”
Liquorice expert Tom Dixon added: “I travel around the country telling people about Pontefract – they should be coming to the town to see it.”