Opportunity Dorking

The vision for Opportunity Dorking is to realise the town's commercial and cultural potential so that it has a sustainable future.

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Objectives

Objective A: Develop Dorking's brand and reduce shop vacancies through a balanced mix of retail, leisure and entertainment facilities, with a supportive car parking offer. (High streets are evolving with more emphasis on 'experiential retail'. A strong, marketable brand, informed by digital data and stakeholder engagement, and a customer-focused approach to travel and parking, have never been so important for town centres.)

Objective B: Improve Dorking's public realm to maximise the town's attractiveness and introduce environmental schemes to enhance enjoyment and good health. (Public realm improvements can include reducing street clutter, using visually attractive materials for new works, whilst conserving and celebrating the best of existing street furnishings; there are also innovative transport solutions for reducing traffic congestion and its impacts.)

Objective C: Attract investment, utilising a strong evidence base, and provide advice and support to encourage businesses to locate, stay and grow in Dorking. (Evidence gathering studies are vital for grant funding applications; training e.g. digital skills, and other business support can help enhance competitiveness; the presence of workers spending money in town plays a vital role in a town's sustainability.)

Objective D: Enhance the town's cultural and heritage features, and reinforce Dorking as an historic tourist destination with great leisure facilities. (Strong cultural offers are central to successful, well regarded town centres that are attractive to visitors. This includes realising the potential of distinctive assets, notably the town's heritage and natural setting.)

Objective E: Realise the benefits of publicly owned assets in Dorking, including through promotion of various Council-owned sites for re-development. (Redevelopment is a longer-term proposition but there are a number of Council owned assets with potential to become interesting regeneration projects.)

Projects for 2021/22

Project 1: A stakeholder engagement programme will ensure that feedback from businesses, residents and community groups is captured at regular intervals (this will help deliver objectives A and C)

Project 2: A business survey will be undertaken to inform the development of the training and recovery support offer for local businesses (this will help deliver objective C)

Project 3: Promote Meadowbank for community events to enhance the town centre offer and encourage more visitors to the town (this will help deliver objective D)

Project 4: An investment prospectus will set out the benefits of locating a business in Dorking/ Mole Valley (this will help deliver objective C)

Project 5: The Friday Market in Dorking will be grown into a fuller offer with more stalls and other markets will be supported, such as the Dorking BID’s Artisan Market (this will help deliver objectives A and D)

Project 6: A proactive approach to dealing with retail vacancies will include the creation of a landlords' database to enable engagement with commercial agents and landlords to discuss 'meanwhile' uses and potential long-term occupiers (this will help deliver objective A)

Project 7: Support for business start-ups will be provided by the University of Chichester Business School through a series of workshops (this will help deliver objective C)

Project 8: Re-development of Pippbrook House as a community hub with co-working space will be taken forward with developers (this will help deliver objective E)

Project 9: Re-development of the Foundry site as a mixed use development including expanding the museum footprint will be taken forward with developers (this will help deliver objective E)

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