In the latest in our series on the future of Huddersfield town centre, university marketing expert Stephen Wigley argues the case for creating themed zones
SPLITTING Huddersfield town centre into themed quarters could rescue it from the doldrums, a marketing expert has said.
But Huddersfield needs to promote itself better to shed outdated and negative images of the town, says fashion marketing lecturer Stephen Wigley.
Mr Wigley, of the University of Huddersfield, argues the town centre should be split into quarters with different themes to stimulate different developments and activities – such as culture, history and retail.
Separating Manchester, Nottingham, Belfast and other cities into quarters has generated redevelopment and extra revenue for each city, he claimed.
Mr Wigley said: “Huddersfield has a lot to be proud of with its history but I’m not sure it’s being best taken advantage of.
“Our town centre could be more effectively zoned. Building quarters helps bring a focus to areas.
“We want people to come into Huddersfield in the evening. After 6pm there aren’t many people in the town centre and some of those who are can be quite intimidating but zoning it can be quite effective.”
But he added that due to a lack of material promoting the town, some outsiders still think Huddersfield is a moribund, post-industrial town.
Mr Wigley said: “Huddersfield doesn’t promote itself very well.
“It’s not a grim northern town but people think that. It doesn’t celebrate itself enough which is a shame because it’s in a good location between Leeds and Manchester.”
Mr Wigley believes the town centre needs a unique destination to attract visitors from out of town.
Mr Wigley said: “What the town could do is to attract a destination store such as a John Lewis or a Waitrose.
“There are a lot of empty buildings in Huddersfield town centre and an iconic store will give people a reason to come in.
“People still enjoy the shopping experience but the key is to give them something you can’t get elsewhere.
“Go into Hebden Bridge and there is unique stuff. Go to Holmfirth and it’s the same. There’s no reason why Huddersfield can’t develop something unique.
“Byram Arcade needs to be developed like the Victoria Quarter in Leeds or Affleck’s Palace in Manchester.”
Mr Wigley also argued the town centre needs to be more accessible.
He said: “They need to make parking cheaper. That’s why people are parking out of town.
“If there’s safe, managed parking that’s not expensive it will help.”
Mr Wigley was the latest in a series of people advocating change to help improve the town centre.
Their ideas include:
Increase non-retail employment
Improve access and parking
Reward shoppers with a loyalty scheme
Create a wider variety of entertainment and culture
Open facilities to make visitors feel comfortable and welcome
Set up ‘town teams’
Cut rents and rates to entice new businesses
Split the town centre into themed quarters or zones
Open a unique ‘destination’ location
Promote the town centre better
Take advantage of Huddersfield’s heritage.