Great British High Street judges impressed with “passion” for Norwich shopping district

The judge for the Great British High Street competition, Ed Cooke, right, chats to Stefan Gurney, ex

The judge for the Great British High Street competition, Ed Cooke, right, chats to Stefan Gurney, executive director of Norwich BID, as the judge tours Timberhill. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2016

The passion of local businesses for Norwich impressed upon the Great British High Street judges as they visited the city on a reconnaissance mission.

The Castle/Arcade District of Norwich is up against Derby's Cathedral Quarter and Bristol in the city category of the competition which was won by Norwich Lanes in 2014.

And the Norwich BID team took judge Ed Cooke, chief executive of Revo, on a tour of the area yesterday.

While the public vote is worth 50pc of the eventual score, the remaining half of the result will be decided by the judges.

'The sense I get of the city is there are lots of people who are very passionate about the place, and a real connection and affinity to it,' said Mr Cooke. 'I think that is very genuine.

'The impression I have got is they are delivering some innovative products including the Discover Norwich app and introducing free wifi in the area, which are really adding value.

'The collaboration between BID and the business community seems real and the partnership is of critical importance to deliver success to these places.

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'If people are not passionate about the city they work in, it is hard to see how they can attract other people. That passion helps to engender support for the place.'

Judging will be based on three criteria - innovation, collaboration, and outcomes.

'In the city here we have footfall up 2-2.5pc against the national average of -2pc,' added Mr Cooke. 'Vacancy rates in the city are below the national average, and in this area it is even lower. If you think about visitor numbers over the last five or six years there have been steady trends downwards. Norwich seems to have bucked that trend. That is by recognising they have several different assets that can draw people in, like the Royal Arcade and the Castle Mall.'

Norwich is currently running a close second to Derby in the popular vote, and Stefan Gurney, director of Norwich BID, issued a rallying call to back the campaign.

'We are neck and neck with Derby and I think it is hugely important everyone gets online and pushes Norwich on,' he said. 'It is a 50/50 split between the popular vote and the judges' vote, and we want to be first with both. Derby and Bristol are both much bigger cities but they do not deserve to win, we deserve to win, so people need to vote.'

Visit to cast your vote.

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