A temporary hub to support high street traders and local businesses to thrive as they recover from the effects of the pandemic opened in the centre of Bath yesterday (June 14).

The High Street Hub has been set up in a former empty shop, using primarily recycled and reclaimed furniture, in Cheap St by Bath & North East Somerset Council to provide quick access to council support for businesses.

Supported by government Covid-19 response grants, the Hub will be a temporary base from which the council can provide swift and direct support to high street businesses through meeting with traders and carrying out visits to their businesses.

The Hub will support High Street Renewal projects which bring vacant shops back into use, improve public spaces and bring events and animation to the city, town and neighbourhood centres.

Monday to Friday, council teams will offer support on businesses skills, training, grant advice as well as specialist advice on from teams such as public health and licencing.

On weekends and out of business hours, the Hub will be used to support community, environmental and business initiatives that aim to bring people to the High Street.

These activities will include a collaboration with Bath Business Improvement District on Summer Sundays running from June 27 with the aim of inspiring more local families to visit Bath city centre at quieter times, through free art and craft activities and offers promoting local businesses. The events will run each Sunday for ten weeks and are funded by Bath BID and the council.

The High Street Hub is an important part of the council’s commitment to supporting and welcoming people back to our high streets after lockdowns. The council’s property team will also be opening a commercial hub at New Bond St in July which will enable the council to support its commercial tenants in the city centre.

Councillor Richard Samuel, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development & Resources, said: “These are hugely challenging times for our high street businesses and we want to offer them direct and targeted support. I’m pleased that the creation of High Street Hub will mean that we have a physical presence in the heart of the city, where traders can come and speak with us and get the right help for their business. We will be extending the direct support to our property tenants with the opening of our commercial hub next month.

“It’s great news that the Hub will be used to further encourage footfall during weekends and evenings through some engaging community activities. Thank you to our partners for their support with this.”

The High Street Hub supports the West of England Combined Authority-funded Love our High Streets programme to bring public space improvements to the city centre and the Welcome Back Fund programme to bring activities to bring visitors and locals back to High Streets this summer through temporary interventions, outdoor markets and media campaigns. It also supports the WECA Unit Action Project which is bringing innovative commercial, creative and community uses to vacant shops to support high street recovery – including artists studios, meanwhile uses and pop-up shops.

West of England Metro Mayor Dan Norris said: ” It’s good to back our brilliant businesses at this challenging time. Tourism and hospitality have been especially hard hit by the pandemic. But people from Bath and surrounding communities are resilient and creative. And that plus the high-quality skills support on offer, means we can turn this around.”

Allison Herbert, Chief Executive of the Bath BID, said: “We are so pleased to see the city reopening and welcoming people back, and are keen to encourage people to spend time and money in the city over the summer months. Our Summer Sundays initiative is designed to showcase Bath as a vibrant, family-friendly city with lots of events and activities to enjoy, and our free arts and crafts activities in Cheap Street will form an important part of the campaign.”

Businesses wishing to contact the High Street Hub should call Council Connect on 01225 39 40 41, email council_connect@bathnes.gov.uk or follow the Twitter account for updates.