Institute explores options for future with stakeholders in Louth

Nestled against the Lincolnshire Wolds to the south of the Humber lies Louth. It is a town whose relative isolation has made it very self-dependent and this is reflected today by the large number of independent retailers and a regular market still trading. Retail vacancy is a low 5% and there is a great richness and distinctiveness to the retail offer, but like all towns, there is concern about the future of the high street and the Institute was asked by East Lindsey District Council to run a Vitality and Viability workshop and look at options for the future.

In late June, some 45 people participated in the three hour session. They included community group representatives, businesses, Council members and officers and local residents. The session explored the strengths of the town, its great built environment with strong Georgian legacy, the depth of the retail offer, its community spirit and engagement, and activities and events programmes but we also looked at areas of concern. Louth is no longer on the rail network and so access is by car or bus from Lincoln, Grimsby or Skegness. In a small town, car parking and pedestrian/vehicle conflict were issues at times. As in other small towns, there was concern about how they serve young people and how the town might adapt as it adds new housing development and sees its population age.

Although Louth had had some form of town centre management in the past, there is no current scheme in place and many of the things such initiatives typically do were therefore absent. However, Louth has a real identity, a strong business base, a growing local catchment, potential tourism appeal and is in a good place to take steps to safeguard its future. The workshop was a very lively affair which showed a real enthusiam from participants about the future of the town.

Following the workshop, the Institute submits a short report that summarises the discussions in the session and shares our research findings and experience from elsewhere. This includes the 25 factors that impact town centre vitality and viability and the 4 Rs of regeneration. We will be working with East Lindsey in three other of their inland market towns over the next few months.