What will the high streets of Yeadon and Otley look like in future? Talking to local people, I’ve heard a lot of harrowing stories about the impact of the pandemic. The economic effects are there to see in the closed shops, empty buses and quiet streets.
I am guessing that not all the shops might reopen but I believe new businesses would be willing to open in both Otley and Yeadon.
Finding new uses
New planning flexibilities introduced in September 2020 might help businesses to respond more quickly to changing demand on Otley and Yeadon high streets. The “Changes to Use Classes” mean that it is now much easier to change use from a shop to a café for example.
I’d like to encourage innovation and different approaches to see what works. Occasional street closures for events like Otley’s Victorian Fayre and the annual cycle race can be a real draw for the public. Yeadon Town Hall had success with its Christmas market before the pandemic, and maybe that could be expanded into the High Street? Perhaps we could also have monthly pop-up events when new businesses can set up stalls to come and show off their wares?
Some town centres actively encourage people to come and live on the main streets where commercial premises remain empty. If elected, I’d like to meet local landlords to see if there’s more potential for this in Yeadon or Otley.
Building networks for recovery
But politicians can’t achieve things in isolation and I would want to work closely with local business networks. I’m really pleased that Otley BID has secured a £7,500 grant from Leeds City Council and if elected I will certainly work hard to secure more recovery funding for the whole ward.
Combining online and shop front business
So many of our services including the NHS are being accessed remotely now and so much of our shopping is done online. Our local shops who managed to move some of their business online have lost out less than those who couldn’t. It’s clear that both shoppers and businesses without digital skills can miss out. I want the council and other partner organisations to support and increase local people’s access to digital resources and skills.
Do get in touch and tell me how you think we can help our high streets recover from Covid.