December 7 2013 Latest news:
King's Lynn BID committee members (from left) Vancouver Shopping Centre manager Abbie Panks, KL Bid consultant Jess Cunningham, Maple Smith & Lemmon partner Sharon Edwards and KLFM MD Darren Taylor. Picture: Ian Burt
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Shoppers could desert King’s Lynn in favour of Norwich, Peterborough and Cambridge unless radical investment is made to improve and promote the town centre, organisers of a new campaign to bolster the town have warned.
With neighbouring cities investing heavily in promoting their shopping facilities, business leaders fear King’s Lynn could be left out in the cold – unless they find a way to compete.
Their answer is to create a Business Improvement District (BID), where the town’s 600 businesses each pay a levy.
The £300,000 per year it would raise would be used to boost the town centre by offering incentives on parking or paying for promotion.
Jess Cunningham, a consultant to the executive group aiming to set up the King’s Lynn BID, said: “Town centres are changing so much, with the way people shop and their lifestyles. For King’s Lynn, it is about embracing that change and moving forward.”
The challenge, she said, is how King’s Lynn attracts people to the town centre when there are bigger shopping centres an hour away.
She added that many people also find online shopping more convenient.
The answer, she said, is for “different business sectors to work together to offer an experience”.
KL.FM managing director Darren Taylor suggested creating a “heritage offering of the town”.
Mr Taylor, who is also on the BID executive group, said: “It is about letting people know that this is quite a quirky, unusual town that has got a lot to see.”
West Norfolk Borough Council is set to approve the creation of a BID in late October but businesses will get a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ vote early next year.
Mr Taylor believes it would be “really bad news for the town” if businesses voted no because King’s Lynn it would lose much-needed investment at a time when there is “general decline in high streets”.
Abbie Panks, another executive group member, added: “We are competing with three towns that have got that investment. If King’s Lynn doesn’t have that, then it is going to be difficult.”
As a result the BID plans to run what he dubbed a “political campaign” - not, he stressed, in the sense of making a political point but in the style of how the ‘yes’ campaign is promoted.
That means they will try to persuade businesses by having face-to-face conversations to promote the benefits and answer questions.
Two hundred jobs are set to be created after one of west Norfolk’s largest businesses was granted permission to expand its King’s Lynn facilities.