Treorchy High Street in the Rhondda Fawr Valley, Wales, has been crowned the best in the UK.
The quaint thoroughfare located in the county borough of Rhondda Cynon Taf triumphed after demonstrating a commitment to the local community, an improving customer experience, an innovative approach to retail and an environmental mind set.
A newly launched ‘Visit Treorchy’ website has helped give local businesses a greater presence online – before this, only 32 per cent of businesses had a website – while a strategic partnership provides digital training and support to local entrepreneurs.
A ‘Hop, Shop and Save’ scheme offers businesses advertising space on local buses in return for instore discounts for customers, helping to promote public transport, reduce air pollution and drive footfall to high street outlets – 80 per cent of which are independently owned.
Treorchy also hosts year-round activities. Last year the town hosted a two-night outdoor cinema event, which was attended by 500 people each night, an art festival and its annual Christmas Parade.
It took home a £15,000 prize for the local community in the coveted Great British High Street Awards, in partnership with Visa.
The news comes as research from Visa found 80 per cent of consumers said a thriving high street makes a town or village a more appealing destination.
Belper Town Centre was named a ‘Champion High Street’ in England, as were High Street, Newtownards, Northern Ireland, and Main Street, Prestwick in Scotland.
‘Rising Star of the Year’, which identifies the high street taking the lead to adapt and diversify, was awarded to The Square in Kelso, a market town in the Scottish Borders area.
It was commended for its innovative initiatives designed to drive footfall and consumer spending on the high street.
The ceremony, in Edinburgh, was attended by the High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP and representatives from 39 shortlisted high streets.
Rt Hon Jake Berry MP said:
“Every place has its own unique strengths and challenges, but all our town centres and high streets have one thing in common – they are the beating heart of our communities.
“The Great British High Street Awards celebrate the grit and determination of local people who are dedicated to supporting their communities, growing their local economy and finding innovative solutions to modern day challenges.
“In Edinburgh, I saw the very best of our high streets and I want to take this opportunity to congratulate all of this year’s winners and to give my personal thanks to the individuals and communities helping to build the future of the high street.
“I am delighted to see such strong examples of thriving high streets from every nation in our United Kingdom.”
Jeni Mundy, managing director UK & Ireland for Visa, said:
“Treorchy and The Square in Kelso are fantastic examples of communities that have made huge strides in transforming their high street to significantly improve the experience for locals and visitors alike.
“Their success goes to show that where you shop really does matter.
“For Treorchy, a rich cultural calendar combined with a desire to experiment with new ways to drive people to shop local shows how independent businesses can come together to make the high street a better place for all.
“Visa’s research reveals four in five consumers say a thriving high street makes a town or village a more appealing destination, underlining why we all need to get behind our local businesses.”
The full list of winners are:
High Street of the Year:
High Street, Treorchy
Rising Star of the Year:
The Square, Kelso
Champion High Streets:
England: Belper Town Centre, Belper
Scotland: Main Street, Prestwick
Wales: High Street, Treorchy
Northern Ireland: High Street, Newtownards
Rising Star High Streets:
England: Yarm High Street, Stockton-on-Tees
Scotland: The Square, Kelso
Wales: Palace Street, Caernarfon
Northern Ireland: Newry City Centre, Newry
For more information about the Great British High Street Awards 2019 and details on all the winners, visit: www.thegreatbritishhighstreet.co.uk