High street 'summit' declared in Wakefield in bid to save city and town centres

Christmas in Wakefield city centre, but the high street shops that remain are at risk.
Christmas in Wakefield city centre, but the high street shops that remain are at risk.

A high street "summit" will take place next year to address the problems facing town and city centres in the Wakefield district.

The event will bring together retailers, property developers and councillors to formally discuss the future of local high streets for the very first time.

Castleford town centre

Castleford town centre

Several high profile retailers with a presence in Wakefield have gone bust in recent years, and centres across the UK are struggling with falling footfall and the rise of online shopping.

The Grimsey Review, published earlier this year on the issue, said that the country could be left with 100,000 empty shops by 2028.

It recommended a change in the way councils conduct business rates and a ban on out-of-town retail parks.

Discussing the matter at a full Wakefield Council meeting on Wednesday, authority leader Peter Box said: "The Grimsey Review makes the point it's time to reshape our town centres.

"It's not solely about Wakefield city centre. It's about all our town centres right across the district. One of the issues we face is because we are a diverse district geographically - we're all different - so we've got to try to make sure that the solutions we come up with are applicable for each of our centres.

But he added: "The report makes clear that local government in itself cannot solve a national problem."

It is not yet clear whether or not the summit will be a one-off or a regular event.

The leader of the Conservative opposition, Nadeem Ahmed, said it was important that the issue remained on the local agenda.

He said: "We do look back on certain things in Wakefield with nostalgia, but certain habits that have changed are not going to come back.

"It's important that we look to the future of the high street and recognise that some of things that we currently see will not exist in the next 10 years."

Local Democracy Reporting Service