The first event to take place at the newly refurbished Market Square in Stafford takes place this weekend.
The official opening on Saturday (28 October) gets underway at 12 noon and organisers promise a feast of free entertainment for residents, shoppers, and visitors.
Leader of Stafford Borough Council, Aidan Godfrey, will be joined by Mayor of the Borough, Councillor Andy Cooper, to start proceedings which, along with the entertainment, will include stalls for local businesses, street food and drink.
Stafford FM will be providing music and commentary throughout the day. Stafford Corps of Drums, Jazz singer Sarah Eastwood and Stafford Rock Choir will be performing alongside local dance group Dappa Dance and a host of street performers.
More details of the inaugural programme can be found from the borough council’s events’ calendar Events | Stafford Borough Council (staffordbc.gov.uk) with updates from its social media channels.
Work on the ‘Square’ has seen 2,500 square metres of paving, new furniture and planting, as well as significant improvements to underground infrastructure such as utility supplies and drainage.
It is the first phase of the transformation of the High Street with the work enabling the area to attract more quality events and specialist markets. The project was funded through a successful borough council bid to the government’s Future High Street Fund (FHSF).
Senior councillors gave the green light earlier this month for the authority to purchase the former Co-op department store in the centre of the town, which has been empty for more than a decade, with plans for a mix of retail, residential, market provision and a food court. Work will also start soon on enhancing the entrance and approach to Stafford Railway Station as part of the FHSF programme.
Confidential discussions are still taking place around other schemes in the town centre backed by the Future High Street Fund.
Councillor Godfrey said: “The completion of the Market Square is a key milestone in the ongoing transformation of our county town. This is just the first phase and I’m really excited for the plans to rejuvenate the High Street.
“The state of the town centre was the number one issue for local people - and we have made it our top priority. What we now have is a fitting centre piece for our county town and a Market Square which will attract more events and quality markets in the future.”
Deputy leader, Councillor Rob Kenney, is leading on the town centre regeneration. He added: “The completion of the Market Square is only the start. We will be pushing ahead with some exciting proposals to bring in more investment, more retail, increased footfall and make our residents and businesses proud of their town again.”
As well as the borough council’s regeneration plans, other projects in and around the town centre include the Staffordshire History Centre off Eastgate Street and proposals to transform land behind the railway station - which will include a government-backed Institute of Technology for Stafford College as well as new businesses, homes, and leisure.
Press Release No 6078