HUNDREDS of people in part of York are being asked to say what they love or loathe about their local shopping area.

City of York Council is working with a market research company to seek the views of businesses, residents and visitors about Front Street in Acomb.

The council committed to a £50,000 investment in Front Street before the pandemic brought about even larger challenges to high streets.

Its survey to gauge views was postponed last year because of Covid-19.

The council is now gathering ideas from the Acomb community about what they love, or what they would like to change, before executive members decide what improvements to make.

Front Street is home to many established independent retailers and community spaces, and the number of empty units is lower than the national average proportion.

Occupancy rates are bucking the UK trend by increasing significantly in the last three years.

Cllr Andrew Waller, executive member for the economy and strategic planning, said: “There has never been a more important time to take a close look at and plan the futures of our shopping areas.

“The pandemic presents huge challenges for many businesses and residents. It has accelerated many of the changes generally on the high street we knew were coming, like an increase in online shopping.

“But the last year has also seen many people reconnect with their communities and use the independent, local shops which give York its special character. We want to combine that community spirit with the huge potential of Front Street to offer a welcoming place where local people can live, work and relax."

He said the authority was combining a Covid-secure market research exercise with online engagement to gather a range of views.

IdB, the research company, has already contacted 500 residents for feedback. Surveys are being left with residents in a sterile bag, with gloves, an antiviral wipe and a return bag. The researcher will return later that day to collect the questionnaire.

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