Knowle High StreetYou are concerned about the future of Knowle’s High Street

I ran a survey in 2019 about the village centre. The results showed that empty shops, declining choice and infrastructure issues were concerning residents. There was demand for more independent shops, better supermarket and restaurant offers and additional community and youth facilities.

High Streets across the nation have been losing custom because of online trading, some are turning into ghost towns. I visited Northwich that sme year, and a shopping centre with about 30 per cent occupancy, totally unsustainable. Without footfall to support shops, trading from retail premises becomes very challenging and empty shops become harder to fill.

The survey showed that there was a real appetite for Knowle to buck the national trend.

That and work by others surveying local businesses led to the formation of Visit Knowle

Visit Knowle is a not for profit venture through which local businesses, community organisations and residents, with the support of Solihull Council are seeking to rejuvinate the village centre, with an even better retail offer and village ambiance.

Since its formation, the number of empty shops has increased significantly, especially in the St John’s Way Precinct and its associated High Street properties, and residents are collectively concerned about the impression that this gives.

The good news is that Visit Knowle and local Councillors have been lobbying for change and there is now a concerted effort to fill the shops. The demand is there and the fruits are showing in the external painting of the empty High Street frontages and the first occupation, a Pilates Studio, imminent – with more to follow.

In addition to this campaigning, we, Visit Knowle, have sought to market all that Knowle has to offer, enhance the streetscene, refresh street furniture , increase seating and planting and run events that celebrate our village, its past, present and future. We recognise that people will go out of their way to stroll around for a couple of hours and spend some money in places that have a combination of an attractive setting, independent shops, heritage and food.

Knowle LibraryKnowle has the attractiveness. Apart from the vacant premises, it has very high quality independent shops. It has really interesting heritage, both inside and outside the village, but has not previously promoted it as well as it might. Visit Knowle’s Facebook page and website have addressed that and gathered a substantial following.

Celebrating our Heritage

Villages with heritage are popular with visitors as well as a reason for residents to be proud. That is why our Conservation Area  is important and the work of Knowle Society is helping to protect it. Although on hold because of the pandemic and its effect on available funding the Library Courtyard project is another initiative intended to enhance the amenity of our village.

And, if you unfamiliar with our considerable number of heritage assets, why not follow the self guided walks that I put together for Knowle Society and Visit Knowle, based on work done by an earlier generation of Knowle Society folks in documenting the history of our stock of historic buildings.

Together, we can keep our village a sustainable place to shop, meet and do business at the heart of Knowle.