New plans revealed for town centre thanks to ‘Welcome Back’ funding

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A new augmented reality trail will be developed for Tamworth town centre as part of new funding to be spent on encouraging people back to the high street in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Tamworth Borough Council has been awarded £67,455 from the European Regional Development Fund’s Welcome Back Fund to help support the wider reopening of the town centre through a variety of activities.

As well as the development of the augmented reality trail, the money will also be used to carry out some improvements to the town centre, including additional deep cleans, painting and new bins.

Money will also be invested in promotional campaigns to support the town’s business community and for a special event celebrating our town centre offer.

The Welcome Back Fund is an extension of the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund which supported a number of activities in the town last year, including the appointment of the ‘Shop Safe’ team to help businesses adapt to the pandemic and its restrictions.

This round of funding had to meet a number of criteria and activities must focus on encouraging people back to town centres to help support the local business and visitor economy.

As such, members of Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet last week approved an outline programme of activities, which has been submitted to Government as part of the bid process.

Augmented Reality Trail

A new Augmented Reality Trail will be developed throughout Tamworth town centre which will bring history to life using virtual reality technology. This will build on the new and successful AR trail which was launched in Tamworth Castle this year.

The trail app will be free to download and will highlight some of the town’s historical people and places. It is hoped the trail will include 10 to 15 points of interest that will help bring new visitors into the town centre.

Town centre enhancements

The Welcome Back Fund will pay for three additional town centre deep cleans to ensure it is as attractive and welcoming to visitors as possible. This will include steam cleaning and jet-washing of hard standing areas, cleansing along shop fronts, street furniture and litter bins. Additional bins will be placed around the centre to reduce littering and street furniture will be refurbished and painted where needed.

Promotional campaigns

A series of promotional campaigns will be created with the aim of highlighting Tamworth and its businesses in a more prominent way and marketed to wider audiences across the region. This could include activities such as the creation of a pub and restaurant trail, improvements to the Visit Tamworth website and new promotional videos. We will be looking to further engage with town centre businesses to develop these plans.

Celebratory event

Finally, it is proposed that a celebratory event focusing on the town centre is held, to showcase and highlight what is on offer in the town. This event will be developed in conjunction with town centre businesses.

Cllr Daniel Cook, Tamworth Borough Council’s Cabinet member for Economy and Waste, said: “We’re delighted to have been awarded this money from the Welcome Back Fund as an extension to the activities we carried out through our ‘Shop Safe’ campaign last year. The funding is purely focused on helping local economies to bounce back after covid and encouraging people back to their high streets. The criteria are quite rigid and the activities we’ve come up with had to meet those, but we’ve had positive feedback from Government about our plan.

“Obviously it’s difficult in Tamworth at the moment because our rates are incredibly high and we need to still be really cautious. For now our main focus needs to be on getting that infection rate down through vaccinations and testing.

“However, we are hopeful that once more people have had both vaccinations, the situation will improve and we can start pulling out all the stops to invite people back, safely, to support the high street. Times were already tough on the high street and our businesses have faced incredible challenges and will need all our support going forward.

“We’ve got until March next year to spend this money, so we’ll be working with businesses and partners in the coming weeks and months on the timing of activities so they can have maximum impact.”

Cllr Paul Brindley, who helped identify areas that need improving in the town as part of his role as Heritage Champion, said: “First impressions are so important, not only for people visiting the area for the first time, but also our residents, who we want to encourage back to the town centre after covid. We all have our part to play in revitalising the town centre, and businesses and shoppers deserve to spend their time in an attractive, tidy and clean environment.”

More information can be found in the Cabinet agenda from last week’s meeting.