The health of Knaresborough's market and High Street is to be researched with the launch of a survey which will be put to shoppers and residents as part of a 'Retail Inquiry'.
MP Andrew Jones (Harrogate and Knaresborough) and Conservative Councillors today (January 22) launched their inquiry by asking for public views on the strength and weaknesses of high street shopping and the market.
Physical copies of the survey have been distributed to every home in Knaresborough and an online version is also available, to produce a 'comprehensive picture' of where improvements could be made according to Mr Jones.
He said: "The market has been part of Knaresborough since 1310. That’s why I want to back Harrogate Council’s efforts to re-boot Knaresborough’s market but also to look at the wider context of shopping and services in Knaresborough. The health of the High Street and the health of the market are closely linked; improving one will improve the other.
“But to ensure we do this in a way which is based on evidence we need to get a comprehensive picture of what brings – and what doesn’t bring - shoppers to Knaresborough now and what improvements can be made to encourage more people to shop in town and visit the market. That is why this Retail Inquiry is important and why local councillors and I are encouraging as many people as possible to take part.”
The questions cover a range of topics, including the state of car parking, range of shops and the publicity of Knaresborough.
Steve Teggin, president of Knaresborough Chamber of Trade and Commerce, welcomed the inquiry, saying: “It’s absolutely superb and not before it’s time. We need to put Knaresborough back as a proper trading centre where people want to come. You only have to walk around the centre to see the lack of investment.
“The high street has 17 empty shops and although our traders are resilient, they are on survival mode. Knaresborough needs a bit of revitalisation and hopefully this is what they are trying to do.”
Harrogate Council leader Coun Cooper, has also flagged concerns over certain vacant properties in the town and hopes it will revive the town's retail appeal.
He said: “Knaresborough’s retail vacancy rate is about half of the national average however there are a number of empty shops on the high street, some of which have been for decades and that’s unacceptable.
“I think the Council has to look at how it approaches the companies and individuals involved in order to get them back into some type of use.”
Adding that he was open-minded about how to boost the town, Coun Cooper said: “There are no preconceptions, no fixed ideas or place to end up. We expect a wide range of ideas and my mind is open to all of them.”
Mr Jones said he hoped that the full results of the Inquiry will be published at the end of February.
Co-chairing the inquiry with him are KTC Coun Phil Ireland, John Batt, Ed Darling, along with resident Samantha Mearns.
You can take part online here