Business leaders heard how Lincoln could be a different place in six years’ time at Lincoln BIG’s annual general meeting (AGM).
Held at the Cathedral Centre on November 13, Lincoln BIG Chief Executive Matt Corrigan told the AGM that significant investment in the retail scene and even development culturally will change perceptions of Lincoln, attracting more trade.
He looked at future ways to create both opportunities and challenges, and he and Lincoln BIG chair Ursula Lidbetter urged traders to think about their potential impact now.
Speaking about city infrastructure, Matt Corrigan said: “Physically speaking, the construction of Lincoln’s Eastern Bypass is due to start within six years, but work on the city’s East-West Link Road is scheduled to begin next autumn and it will make a real difference to traffic flows.
“It is not just about connecting the St Mark’s area with Pelham Bridge, the consequences of this change will see the creation of a more friendly pedestrian environment in a large part of the city centre.”
However, he noted that one big challenge facing the city is the potential for more freight trains through Lincoln.
He hopes that the new transport interchange, with its bus and coach station and close proximity to the railway station and multi-storey car park in Tentercroft Street, will help pave the way for the multi-million pound Lindongate project.
He reflected on the new stores and openings of big brands in the city centre, such as River Island, Next and H&M.
Plus on the tourist front, the Castle Revealed project, Lincolnshire Bomber Command Memorial, and Roman trails should boost Lincoln footfall outside of the county.
Matt Corrigan said: “A significant part of our future business plan is going to be all about growth and managing change.
“Lincoln BIG will also have a central role, in terms of the welcome we give to our visitors, with The Visitor Information Centre our new Ambassadors Scheme, the installation of signage and more.
“We need to build on our distinctiveness, as one of our challenges is to make sure that Lincoln continues to attract older people, with the increasing importance of the ‘grey pound’, whilst at the same time looking out to attract a growing number of students who are coming to study here.”
Lincoln BIG chairman Ursula Lidbetter added: “City centre footfall is strong and our shop vacancy rate is low, but we certainly don’t take that for granted.
“Looking at some other towns and cities is scary, having a BID (Business Improvement District) keeps everyone together and maintains vitality.
“We have lots to be proud of and lots to feel confident about but also lots to do about issues, such as street drinking, begging and shop theft, to improve perceptions of the city.”