If you use Church Road regularly you may have noticed a few changes appearing over recent months. This is thanks to the work of local volunteers who are part of Church Road Town Team, a small group which is dedicated to making the high street a destination. We met three members of the team to find out more.
Simon Webb is a resident and local business owner and has been involved in community action around Church Road for a number of years, since starting Redfest in 2008. “When we set up our business here we could see the potential of the street and that with some small changes it could be a much nicer environment for residents and shoppers. We applied to the Mary Portas pilot scheme, came up with ideas and were rewarded with an ‘our town first’ grant which we used to paint tired looking shop fronts and create a successful Christmas event. We want to show others that together we can make a difference to Church Road.”
Redfield resident June Barclay was already involved in community action. “I am part of Church Road Action Group which focuses on working with the police and council to improve the environment. From that I got involved in the town team as I liked the sound of the projects. My partner and I used to run a business on Church Road as well.”
The team took part in a national research project – High Street 2020 – which looked at the strengths and weaknesses of the road and identified challenges around the busy traffic and lack of social space to congregate, as well as limited night time economy.
“We need more places for people to linger. We also want to promote the identity and character of the place with better signage and a website. This work is as much about building community as supporting businesses” says Simon.
Maxine and Nigel Williams got involved after meeting the Town Team at a High Street 2020 meeting. “A high street is the heart of a place. It’s you bump into your neighbours and feel more connected to where you live. It’s important to amplify that” explains Nigel. So far the team has raised funds for new street trees and benches in Church Road as well as improving unloved small green areas through its ‘pocket spaces’ project. They have also hosted the family friendly Merry Little Church Road Christmas which included street theatre, an interactive toy hunt, music and a winter lantern parade which they plan to repeat this year.
The team is now looking at other town teams around the UK, and what they can learn from them. “Right now we’re focusing to make things happen, any help from other business owners and residents is always welcome!” adds Simon.
Church Road Town Team meets monthly. If you’ve got ideas or energy for helping make projects happen on Church Road contact Simon on 07815 719403 or visit www.churchroadtownteam.co.uk
This article was first published in the Summer 2015 edition of ‘Up Our Street’ published by Easton and Lawrence Hill Neighbourhood Management. The current and previous editions can be read at www.eastonandlawrencehill.org.uk