Hemel Hempstead is on full alert this morning (Thursday 3 November) as a team of expert judges find out what makes its high street so special and a contender to win the Great British High Street competition.
A judge from British Land, the sponsor of the town centre category, has a 50 per cent say on who wins the title of the best town centre high street in Britain.
The other 50 per cent is taken up by the public vote – already over 100,000 votes have been cast. Hemel Hempstead is running a close race with Blackburn in Lancashire and Banbury in Oxfordshire in the ‘best town centre’ category, pulling out all the stops to get residents, local businesses and visitors voting every day until the competition closes on 18 November.
The winners of each category will get a share of a prize pot worth £100,000 and expert training from Google’s digital taskforce for shops, bars and restaurants, as well as a trip to Twitter UK’s London office to boost their social media skills.
Councillor Graham Sutton, our Portfolio Holder for Planning and Regeneration, says: “We can’t wait to show the judges around Hemel Hempstead. There’s been so much change over recent years, starting with restoring the historic Old Town, and then moving on to the transformation of the main shopping area.
“Regeneration has decreased the number of empty shop units by two thirds, attracted millions of pounds of private investment and brought us all together again as a community – from the exuberant welcoming home of local Olympians Max Whitlock and Jess Stretton in New Town Square last week, to the very popular Halloween party last weekend to switching on the Christmas lights on 27 November.
“There’s so much going on, and so much worth voting for – today, tomorrow and every day until 18 November.”
Judge Deborah Owen-Ellis Clark, British Land’s Head of Retail Marketing, adds: “British Land is thrilled to be part of the awards. Our company vision is creating Places People Prefer and I’m looking for a town centre that really embodies this.
“I’d love to see a mix of independent food, drink and leisure integrated into the high street and some innovative examples of place enlivenment.”
The Great British High Street Competition 2016 celebrates the great work that is being done to revive, adapt and diversify the nation’s high streets. It is one of a number of initiatives to help champion high streets as the cornerstones of the community.
This year’s competition saw a record 900 entries across all 14 categories, including the new categories for individuals and shops.
Between now and 18 November you can cast your vote for free on the Great British High Street website.