After four weeks of campaigning, 27 judges’ visits and over 500,000 votes, the results of the Great British High Street Awards 2016 were revealed today (Monday December 12).
The overall champion (and winner of the town centre category) is Blackburn, which was crowned The Best High Street in Britain for 2016 in a ceremony held in London.
The Lancashire town wowed the judges with the range of improvements put in place by the collaboration between the Business Improvement District (BID) and the council. They said “Their hard work to turn around the town is an inspiration to high streets across the country.
Here is a list of the winners and runners up in each category, with judges’ comments:
Winner: Blackburn in Lancashire
Runners Up: Banbury, Oxfordshire and Hemel Hempstead, Hertfordshire
Winner: Derby in Derbyshire
‘In an incredibly close category, Derby took the lead with its hard work to attract inward investment and turn the Cathedral Quarter into a respected brand. Home to over 450 businesses across the retail, professional and leisure sector, Derby is a wonderful example of how to support to all retailers – big and small.’
Runners Up: Castle Arcade District, Norwich and Broadmead, Bristol
Large Market Town
Winner: Bridgnorth in Shropshire
‘Lead by a relatively new partnership of local residents, this market town’s application showed how deeply passionate they are about their area. From great events using local history to their innovative Park and Ride scheme, Bridgnorth really impressed us and galvanised the local community to vote.’
Runners Up: Hinckley, Leicestershire and Market Harborough, Leicestershire
Small Market Town
Winner: Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire
‘Hebden Bridge fought off some fierce competition form Chipping Norton and Thame. The 2015 floods clearly have not dampened the resilience, determination and passion for the market town and the bounce back of the high street to 95% occupancy really stood out. After receiving a record breaking 40,000 votes, Hebden Bridge also received the special ‘People’s Choice’ Award for the most votes ever cast for one place in the history of the competition.’
Runners Up: Chipping Norton and Thame, Oxfordshire
Winner: Falmouth in Cornwall
‘In an incredibly tough category, Falmouth came out on top. Collaboration is key in this coastal community, with the local authority working closely with the BID and Town Team. The strong marketing and events on offer – and the lowest vacancy rate in the south-west – blew us away.’
Runners Up: Prestatyn, Wales and Sea View Street, Cleethorpes
Local Centre/Parade of Shops
Winner: Hoole in Cheshire
‘2015’s ‘Best Newcomer’ Hoole returned to this year’s competition with even more passion, innovation and community spirit. By working with both independents and national retailers, and their commitment to deliver some amazing events and growing the local economy, the team has put Hoole on the map.’
Runners Up: Claygate, Surrey and The Pantiles, Tunbridge Wells
Winner: Pateley Bridge in North Yorkshire
‘After a truly impressive campaign to galvanise the local vote, Pateley Bridge is the deserving winner of the village category. Proving big is not always best, this small village high street packs a real punch and over 18 months has reduced the number of empty units to one from 12. With its great community spirit, social media campaign and a commitment to supporting local retailers, Pateley Bridge delighted us.’
Runners Up: Kirkby Lonsdale, Cumbria and Langport, Somerset
Winner: Stockton in County Durham
‘This category was introduced to reward high streets that are turning fortunes around, and Stockton High Street exemplifies this fully. The extraordinary transformation from its industrial past to visitor destination means it now pulls in crowds of up to 65,000 – and its innovative ‘Rediscover Stockton’ website and app offers businesses their own free web space to upload offers.’
Runners Up: Leominster, Herefordshire and Dornoch, Scottish Highlands
Winner: Myddleton Road in Haringey
‘This winner is an example of the power of local people and business areas working together to support their area. The community has rallied around their high street by putting on a range of events and working with local partners such as the local school, and have created a really strong online presence through Twitter and local online forums and using their We Love Myddleton Road brand.’
Runners Up: Lower Marsh & The Cut, Waterloo and Romford High Street
The 2016 People’s Choice Award
Winner: Hebden Bridge in West Yorkshire
‘While all 27 finalists wowed the judges and public, there was one whose campaign was particularly impressive. Showing that population size doesn’t mean everything, with over 40,000 votes (the most ever received for a place in the history of the competition) we choose to recognise one of the winners as this year’s People’s Choice.’
Best independent store manager or employee
Winner: Adam Makey of Niche Comics in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire
‘Adam was aged just 25 and his brother 21 when they decided to open a comic shop in their local town. Adam’s commitment to bring in the younger generation into the high street with evening events and work experience placements is very inspiring.’
Runners Up: Tracey Lawler, The Dressing Room Boutique, Prestatyn in Wales; and Wendy Howell, Design Essentials, Saffron Walden in Essex
Best national store manager or employee
Winner: Zabir Khonat of Marks & Spencer in Camden, London
‘Zabir has spearheaded collaboration between businesses and organisations, working with the police to reduce shoplifting on Camden High Street by 50%. Always going beyond the call of duty, Zabir has spent time with store managers in Clapham, Brixton and Lewisham to engage and share his top tips with them.’
Runners Up: Sally Francis of Boots in Mansfield, Nottinghamshire and Simon Dicken of Wilko in Bedminster, Bristol
Retail Market Champion
Winner: Nicola Martin of Tameside Markets in Greater Manchester
‘Nicola embodies today’s modern market manager. She leads a number of thriving markets in Tameside (indoor and outdoor, farmers’, artisan and night). Among her many achievements, this year she created an innovative and award-winning market at a local hospital to meet the needs of patients and staff alike. Her social media skills and redevelopment of Ashton-Under-Lyne’s new outdoor market make her a worthy winner.’
Runners Up: Chris Hurdman, Thame in Oxfordshire and Beverley Milner-Simonds, Burnham on Sea in Somerset
Best Under 25
Winner: Emily Cotterill of Winchester Business Improvement District
‘Emily delivers creative and engaging projects which support the independent retail scene in Winchester, and is the driving force behind Winchester Fashion Week: a jam-packed six-day programme of fantastic fashion events.’
Runners Up: Cameron Bennett of Waitrose at Horley in Surrey and Imogen Haverty of The Tea Set at Chipping Norton in Oxfordshire
The 2016 #BestGBTwitterShop
This year social media giant, Twitter joined the Great British High Street competition by launching a new category for the best shop on Twitter. The category is to highlight independent shops that are using the platform innovatively to promote their business and drive footfall to their local high street.
‘Lancashire’s finest coffee outlet, Fleetwood Beach Kiosk is an example of how even the smallest shop can take to social media to build a business, support their local community and really get customers engaging with you on a daily basis.
‘Blessed with fabulous natural views, the retailer actively posts pictures of its surroundings, seeks out other local businesses to help support them, and vox pops customers on video to show prospective coffee addicts what’s on offer.’
Runners Up: @arteryshop in Banbury, Oxfordshire and @heartgallery in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire
The Great British High Street competition is sponsored by British Land, Post Office, Holland & Barrett, Boots the Chemist, Marks & Spencer, Wilko, Revo, Ellandi, Google and Twitter.
The contest celebrates the work that is being done to revive, adapt and diversify the nation’s high streets. Not-for-profit and government-funded, The Great British High Street aims to provide resources for high street regeneration and commemorate innovative work going on in high streets across Britain.
Judges visited each town, with their votes making up 50% of the vote. The other 50% of votes were cast by the public – and a record-breaking number of votes were received this year – doubling last year’s total.
The winners in each category will get a share of a prize pot worth £100,000 and receive training from Google’s digital taskforce for shops, bars and restaurants, and a trip to Twitter UK’s London office to boost their social media skills.
High Streets minister Andrew Percy said: “Our high streets are the life and soul of towns, villages and cities across the country – and the record number of competition entries this year is proof of their continued importance to local life.”
The Winner of Winners in the Great British High Street Awards 2015 was Bishy Road in York, which wowed the judges with its ‘passion, innovation and community spirit’. The 2014 winner was Belper in Derbyshire.