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Wednesday, 27 August 2014

South Lakeland economic boost plan

A new vision to improve town centres and help traders in South Lakeland thrive has been unveiled.

Proposals to improve shopping areas and encourage investment have been earmarked as a key priority in the new Council Plan, due to be discussed by Cabinet members next week.

The Council Plan, which sets an overall target of enabling 1000 new jobs and 1000 affordable rented homes, has a strong emphasis on bringing commercial success to local towns. It will support the new Local Plan, due to be considered by Full Council on December 17.

Cllr Giles Archibald, SLDC Portfolio Holder for town-centres and small business, said: "We want to tackle the issues of empty shops and empty properties above shops.

“We will help our towns thrive commercially whilst retaining their distinctive character."

The Plan will also promote Wi-Fi in town-centres and encourage more specialist markets to complement existing markets and shops.

The broad aims of the five-year Council Plan are to: enable and deliver opportunities for economic growth; provide homes to meet need; improve residents' health and wellbeing; and protect the environment.

South Lakes MP Tim Farron has welcomed the Council Plan, highlighting in particular the benefits of creating new jobs and boosting wi-fi.

He said: “"The council plan is exactly right – we need jobs and homes and I hope this plan will be the driver to attract businesses to come to our area. I am passionate to help our town centres and to work with businesses to explore every opportunity possible. I have really pushed the idea of markets and town centre Wi-Fi, so I’m delighted to see them in the plan.

"If you log on anywhere in the town centre you could get a welcome screen that tells you what's on today, where the good offers are to be found and where the goods you're seeking can be found or ordered from. This could only help local businesses."

The council will also work with the police and health partners to reduce domestic violence, drugs and alcohol abuse, and encourage healthy lives and physical activity.

The new partnership with North Country Leisure will run the district's sports centres and swimming pools and the council will encourage residents and community groups to make the best use of parks and open spaces.

Actions proposed to protect the environment include: helping residents save energy by making their homes cheaper to run, increasing recycling, and promoting the Green Deal to help tackle fuel poverty.

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