High Streets Task Force boosts Barrow’s transformation plans with expert support

PLANS to transform Barrow in Furness received a welcome boost when an expert from the  Government’s High Streets Task Force delivered a workshop for senior council, business and community leaders. 

Following the visit last month, the High Streets Task Force has submitted a report of their findings to help inform plans for regeneration and support the local community to address the issues that are blocking change in the town.  

The visit and expert report are part of a package of support that Barrow will continue to receive after it was selected by the Government in April as one of 70 places to work directly with the High Streets Task Force.  

Cllr Ann Thomson, Leader of Barrow Borough Council said: "Barrow was very pleased to be chosen as one of the places to receive support from the High Street Task Force. 

“The visit was very useful and we will take on board the report's recommendations, we look forward to continuing our work with the Task Force." 

Matt Colledge, an appointed Expert of the High Streets Task Force, led a three-hour workshop.  During the day, he learnt about plans to transform Barrow, in particular the proposed investment in  a new cultural and leisure heart to the town centre, an enhanced market offer, and plans to bring  vacant units back to life.  

The expert met with senior representatives from the local authority, Simon Fell MP, as well as business and community leaders, to explain and explore local issues and ways of tackling them.

In its  report, the High Streets Task Force acknowledged Barrow’s many strengths, including its heritage, its plans and its partnerships. 

Speaking about the visit and the report’s findings, Matt said: “I was impressed to learn of the expansive plans for Barrow and during the town tour it was good to see that the town benefits from a range of independent shops alongside the bigger ones. These plans, coupled to the strength of the partnership behind them, is encouraging”. 

The High Streets Task Force Expert report to Barrow picked up the need to further activate the town with a raft of diverse but regular events, pop-ups, markets and festivals alongside a package of new uses for the empty units.

This will help to drive footfall, encourage a wider and more compelling offer through trialling new ideas that could become permanent as well as help to change perceptions. Experience from other areas has shown that this can stimulate business growth,  attract more visitors and drive investment into those places.  

The Task Force will continue to work with Barrow through the coming months, providing a range of services to support transformation in the town.