With the dismal winter weather and fatigue from complying with so many restrictions and rule changes for so many months, businesses and communities alike are finding the second lockdown even more challenging than the first. But funding is available that can help local authorities to implement measures that will help improve consumer confidence and safely increase high street footfall when lockdown is eased.
The Reopening High Streets Safely Fund is a £50 million European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) supported pot, designed to help the safe reopening of streets and commercial areas in England when Government guidance allows. But time is running out for local authorities that want to apply for a share of the cash, with the deadline for applications currently fixed for the end of March 2021.
Pedestrianization Encourages Economic Activity
One of the successful strategies that many local authorities implemented to enhance safety and encourage economic activity when the restrictions of the first lockdown were eased was pedestrianization of town centre streets. This not only allowed people to social distance more effectively by preventing congested pavements but also enabled bars, cafes and restaurants to provide more outdoor seating, without the safety risks associated with traffic. This offered them a valuable boost in the numbers of customers they could serve.
Many of the areas that trialled pedestrianization of local high street areas found that there was a positive response from local residents and businesses too, along with environmental and traffic management benefits which could form part of a wider strategy.
This type of initiative is one of four areas targeted by the Reopening High Streets Safely Fund to enable local authorities in England to support businesses and encourage a safe return to the local high street for consumers. Temporary public realm changes to ensure that reopening of local economies can be handled safely and successfully is encouraged by the fund, and these should complement the public realm improvements already being carried out by local authorities aligned to the Government’s Safer Public Spaces – Urban Centres and Green Spaces guidance.
Public realm changes should increase the level of safety measures, improve the attractiveness of public realm areas, and ensure consistency across individual or multiple public spaces, including the high street. While planters are not rated and can be vulnerable from anti-social behaviour, Crowdguard’s award-winning ATG Surface Guard hostile vehicle mitigation (HVM) system is, providing an aesthetically appealing solution for Reopening High Streets Safely initiatives.
What Makes Surface Guard Ideal for Local Authorities?
A winning product at the 2019 Counter Terror Awards, the Surface Guard surface-mounted HVM system offers rated protected pedestrian access to streets while preventing vehicles from accessing the area. This means that local authorities can pedestrianize streets safely, protecting people from vehicle as a weapon (VAW) attacks and errant drivers, while providing a more spacious public realm with the potential for protected outdoor seating for hospitality businesses.
Suitable for rapid deployment, with no need for any road fixings, the modular system can be designed around the specific needs of the location, including the option to install a vehicle access point for emergency service and delivery vehicles, which can be manually lowered in less than 30 seconds. To accommodate outside dining, there is an option to install extension plates which will enable roads to be opened and closed to allow for traffic.
Public realm improvements installed thanks to Reopening High Streets Safely funding have to be branded to show that they have been supported by the initiative. We can vinyl wrap the Surface Guard system with the ERDF HM Government logos to comply with this condition.
Helping people and businesses to benefit from improved public spaces is both an immediate priority and a long-term goal for local authorities so, whether as part of the Reopening High Streets Safely initiative or not, trialling pedestrianization with ATG Surface Guard is a popular choice.
To find out more about how ATG Surface Guard could help you safely open streets to pedestrians and allow outdoor hospitality seating, get in touch.