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High street renewal: introduction and overview

In recent years, changing lifestyles and the growth of online commerce have had a substantial impact on high street businesses. Challenging trading conditions have been made much worse by the effects of COVID-19 restrictions on shops, hospitality and leisure facilities.

As a council, we are working on a series of projects aimed at supporting high streets in our city, towns and local centres. These co-ordinated schemes aim to make sure our high streets continue to be vibrant places which meet the needs of the community and visitors, and provide spaces for businesses and community organisations to thrive. 

In the short term, our main focus is to protect existing businesses and local jobs, and give residents a reason to visit again, as we come slowly out of restrictions imposed by the  pandemic. We also have longer-term plans to help renew our centres to prepare for the future, with support for a wide range of uses and activities. Select a topic below to learn more about individual projects, and follow links for details on the plans and progress of each scheme.

B&NES-wide projects

Vacant Units Action Project

This two-year project (2021 to 23) is supported by the WECA Recovery Fund and aims to vacant shops and buildings on High Streets to good use. The project is focused on Bath City Centre, with satellite schemes planned in Keynsham and Midsomer Norton. Schemes include the following:

  • Artistic installations and exhibitions, supporting local makers
  • 'Meanwhile' uses of temporarily empty spaces
  • Pop-up and innovative business ventures (such as markets or seasonal themed shopping)
  • Community use projects (such as local charity publicity or COVID-safe messaging)

Bath City Centre Renewal Programme

Milsom Quarter Masterplan

We recently held a public consultation on our co-ordinated masterplan for Milsom Quarter, a group of areas and streets around Bath's traditional retail centre, Milsom Street. The plan covers an ambitious range of potential projects, aiming to shift the focus and identity of the area, to include more than just retail. Plans include new residential accommodation, with associated amenities, an enhanced fashion museum, space for creative industries, and encouraging retail, arts and festival activity to redefine the area as a destination for fashion. View our video for more detail about the Milsom Quarter Masterplan

Public space improvements

A series of projects are underway. We have already made major public space improvements in Saw Close, High Street and Stall Street. In addition, current improvement projects have recently been delivered in Milsom Street, Kingsmead Square and Union Street. We are currently working on designs for York Street and on future phases of works to Milsom Street and Kingsmead Square.

Love our High Street projects

We have developed a bid for financial support from WECA's Love our High Street Fund. Our proposals include the following:

  • For Milsom Quarter and Kingsmead Square: Public space improvements, animation and events projects
  • City-wide: a Street Trading project to improve the look and feel of outdoor market spaces and stalls 

Policy framework for schemes in Bath

We have in place extensive strategies to ensure that any projects within Bath City Centre are appropriate to the city's unique historic environment and World Heritage Site status:

Keynsham High Street Renewal Programme

This programme has two phases, as follows:

Phase 1: public realm and highways scheme

This project is currently in the construction phase. It will deliver major improvements to Keynsham’s core High Street area during 2021 and 22.

Phase 2: High Street Heritage Action Zone

A High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) has been established, with £1.1m grant funding from Historic England, together with funding from Keynsham Town Council and B&NES Council. This four-year scheme (running from 2020 to 24) will deliver improvements to public spaces and shopfronts on the High Street, alongside arts events, community engagement and a cultural programme.

Midsomer Norton High Street Renewal Programme

A High Street Heritage Action Zone (HAZ) has been established, with £2m funding, including funding secured from Historic England, WECA, and with financial support from Midsomer Norton Town Council. This project will deliver the following:

  • A new town square
  • Improvements to the Town Hall
  • Renovated and enhanced historic shopfronts
  • Improvements to public space and street furniture
  • Arts and community engagement

Radstock Town Centre Regeneration Action Plan

We have successfully bid for £750,000 funding from the West of England Combined Authority’s (WECA's) Housing and Regeneration Enabling Fund, to create regeneration plans and masterplans for four town centres in Bath and North East Somerset.

The first plan will be for Radstock, and we are developing this in partnership with Radstock Town Council.

This plan aims to identify opportunities for improvements, to increase the vitality and viability of Radstock town centre, and could include the following things:

  • Community events and markets
  • Improving public spaces
  • Supporting employment and upskilling in the town centre
  • Bringing vacant buildings and shops back into active use
  • Increasing tourism and footfall in the town
  • Assisting community organisations in the town to find new premises which meet their needs

You can have your say on these plans via a consultation running from 5 September 2022 to 23 September 2022.

Bath Local High Streets Improvement Scheme

Improvements are planned for four local High Streets in Bath: Twerton High Street, Mount Road local centre, Moorland Road and Weston High Street. Project funding has been secured and the project will be delivered between 2022 and 2025.

The following additions are proposed across the four high streets:

  • Street furniture
  • Improved cycle storage
  • Art installations 
  • Seasonal dressing 
  • Events 
  • Pop-up shops/meanwhile uses 
  • Sensory garden 
  • In-ground planting including trees 
  • Hanging baskets with seasonal iterations of planting 
  • Shopfront improvement grants 
  • Deep clean/maintenance 
  • Marketing and branding exercises to support an improved ‘place identity’
  • Improved wayfinding

Concept designs were drawn up in early 2022, following local engagement in Autumn/Winter 2021. The concept designs were submitted as part of a successful funding bid to the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).

We (the council) were awarded £295,000 of West of England Combined Authority (WECA) ‘Love Our High Street’ funding. This funding will be combined with £158,000 funding from Community Infrastructure Levy and other sources, creating a Bath Local Centres scheme budget of £453,000. An additional allocation of £35,000 linked funding is provided as part of the Council’s Vacant Unit Action Project. 

You can have your say, with a view to developing a detailed design following this input, on the Twerton High Street and Mount Road concept designs via a consultation running from 5 September 2022 to 30 September 2022. Have your say on our web page