Chipping Norton has finished a runner up in the race to be crowned Britain’s best Market Town high street.
Chipping Norton and the Lancashire town of Colne made it into the top three but were pipped to the post by Helmsley in Yorkshire at an award ceremony in London’s Admiralty House earlier today (Monday).
A record number of 230 high streets entered and nearly 200,000 votes were cast across the seven categories.
This year the public got the chance to vote for the first time, alongside a visit by an expert judge from the Future High Streets Forum. As a runner-up in the Great British High Street Awards 2015, Chipping Norton will now receive a share of a prize pot worth £80,000.
Chipping Norton was named a Runner up in the Market Town category because of their incredible improvement work.
Experience Chippy was set up as a not-for-profit community group and has developed good links with both independents and chain businesses to showcase the best of the town.
The group has set up a social media platform, provided a range of support to local business such as trade meetings, mentorships and workshops, and developed a walking app. It also led a social media campaign which has shown how much passion local residents have for their high street.
This has delivered great results with reduced vacancy rates and increasing footfall.
High Streets Minister Marcus Jones said: “The excitement this competition has generated with a huge level of interest from the public vote is proof that high streets are the life and soul of towns, villages and cities across the country.
“Over the last year investment in property is up 30 per cent, town centre vacancy rates have fallen to under 10 per cent and retail sales have increased for the longest period on record – long may it continue.
“Chipping Norton deserves the very highest praise for being a finalist in this year’s Great British High Street Awards.
“Their innovative ideas and hard work on the ground really made them stand out and we’ll be sharing their excellent example to help others learn from their success.”
The Great British High Street Awards 2015 is run by the Department for Communities and Local Government and sponsored by Boots, Costa, Post Office, Marks and Spencer, Tesco and the British Council of Shopping Centres.
Now in its second year and is one of a number of initiatives to help champion high streets as the cornerstones of the community.
These include a billion pound package of investment ranging from targeted business rate discounts, sensible planning changes and action that reins in over-zealous parking practices.
There were seven categories in the 2015 Great British High Street Awards.
City Location – Winner: St Giles Street, Northampton
Town Centre – Winner: Rotherham
Market Town – Winner: Helmsley
Coastal Community – Winner: Amble
Local Centre – Winner: Bishy Road, York
Village – Winner: West Kilbride
London – Winner: Pitshanger Lane, Ealing
Bishy Road was named winner of winners.
In addition because of the high-quality of this year’s new entries the judges decided to create a special new prize of Best Newcomer – which was awarded to Faulkner Street, Hoole.
Winners were decided by a combination of an assessment by an expert judge from the Future High Streets Forum and the public vote. Each had a 50 per cent say on who won the competition.