Lincoln’s High Street has tricky years ahead but is still “bucking the trend”, according to city council chiefs.
Bosses at the City of Lincoln Council have said the state of the city’s shopping scene will look “very different” in the next decade, but will have a sense of “vitality”.
It comes as the council compares trends to a masterplan in 2006 aimed at preparing the city for the future.
Kate Ellis, director of major developments at the authority, said the aim of the plan was to identify how Lincoln needed to change.
“It was a 50 year plan based on how cities have evolved over centuries,” she said.
“It looked at some of the best cities in and around Europe and America, as well as looking at some of the trends that we were expecting to happen.”
The city centre masterplan came when online retail began to challenge the traditional high street.
Kate Ellis said the strategy showed that the city centre needed to offer more than just shops.
“That 2006 masterplan identified a number of principles and objectives about how the city needed to change,” she said.
“It showed that it was not just about shops and retail, but that it was about leisure and creating a destination for people to come whether that’s residents, visitors or businesses.”
She added that the plan identified a need for Lincoln to offer a “better mix” and helped the council “prepare for the changes”.
How will it change?
The idea for Lincoln’s new look high street in years to come will be to shift focus onto offering an “experience” for people who come to the city.
City council bosses want to change the city centre from a “nine until five” place and to keep people beyond that time.
A mixture of residential, leisure and retail outlets will help people to have a “range of reasons” to visit the city, said Ms Ellis.
Cosy Club, Everyman Cinema and the soon to be open 200 Degrees cafe are examples of the coming change on the Cornhill Quarter.
Meanwhile, the £30 million Lincoln transport hub, which celebrated its first birthday this month, is aimed at offering easier access to the city.
But, among all the change, there will still be the traditional shopping experience albeit in smaller outlets.
“Some people still want to see and feel what it is they are purchasing,” said Ms Ellis.
“The internet is very good for when you know what you are looking for but there is still a place for a retail presence on the high street.”
“Tricky years” to come
Despite the advances in changing what the city has to offer, council chiefs feel there are “tricky years” ahead.
The £70 million Cornhill Quarter regeneration project is part of an effort by the authority to tackle the “5pm to 7pm” market.
The idea is that people stay in the city centre longer in an evening.
But, Ms Ellis said it was “still a market” the authority needed to work on.
“That’s the bit in the economy that we have not quite got right yet,” she said.
“It’s about what do people do from leaving work to when they start socialising.”
She added that the city needs more “vitality” on the high street at that time.
Meanwhile, the online retail sector remains a “big factor” in the city council’s high street strategy.
As Lincoln is a university city, the generational divide over those who use the internet as a shopping destination and those who use the high street continues to pose a challenge.
“There’s lots of things that are happening now that we have been preparing for,” she said.
“But we have got some tricky years ahead of us because there is no doubt that the online retail is having a bigger impact quicker than even some of the retail specialists thought was going to be the case.”
10 years’ time
The city’s high street will be “very different” in 10 years’ time, said Ms Ellis.
The strategy to move Lincoln from a “nine until five” city centre experience will move forward by 2029.
Retail will see a “shrinkage” and more people will be working and living in the area, she predicted.
But she added that the core area of the high street, from the top of The Strait to Tentecroft Street, will remain the same.
“I think it will be very different,” she said.
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