CH1ChesterBID has teamed up with a group of prominent Chester photographers to begin addressing the problem of empty units across the city centre and they’re starting with the former home of retail giant, BHS.
The new initiative has been designed to highlight the city as a desirable retail and hospitality destination, not just for Cestrians and tourists but also for independent and high street businesses.
Working with local photographers Mark Carline, Kat Hannon and Sam Ryley the city’s Business Improvement District (BID), will display images across the outside of the Foregate Street store in order to breathe new life into the unit.
A wide range of pictures created by the photographers showcasing ‘the best of Chester’ will be used, highlighting creative talent in the city alongside some of Chester’s most popular independent businesses.
Photographer and filmmaker Sam Ryley, said: “I know I speak on behalf of Mark and Kat when I say we’re all honoured to see our pictures being used so prominently in Chester city centre.
“We’re so lucky to live in such a fascinating city and have an organisation such as CH1ChesterBID championing local talent and raising the profile of the city’s many independent retailers. As I’m involved in numerous local projects to help improve and showcase originality, I have been very lucky to develop some fantastic connections with the city’s creative talent, cultural landscape and businesses.
“Obviously it’s never great to have empty shops on the high street, but we’ve really enjoyed working with CH1ChesterBID on this project. Hats off to them for their forward thinking in this project.
“I’m very happy that we’re taking positive action to brighten up the front of an unused building and though a lot of people that live locally take the beauty of our city for granted, I really hope these images make people stop and take a second look as to what they have all around them. For me this an important step in recognising the creativity within the city as part of its culture alongside its historical value.”
Kat Hannon from Kat Hannon Photography added: “I’m thrilled to be contributing to Chester’s dynamic retail scene. My passion and background in fashion, coupled with my history of working closely with Chester businesses, means I fully understand the importance of showcasing local shops to their full potential.”
The photography project and the vinyl artwork is set to stay in place until a new tenant can be found. CH1CHesterBID also plans to apply virtual shop fronts to other empty stores in the city centre, to show how the high street could potentially look in the future.
Carl Critchlow, manager of the CH1 Chester Business Improvement District (BID) said: ““The high street of today is constantly evolving, so as businesses come and go, managing units that become empty is all part of good city centre management. The old BHS unit has been empty for a while now so we have used it as a canvas to showcase the very best that Chester has to offer and hopefully the unique design will give potential tenants an idea of how the unit could look.
“In addition to Improving the appearance of empty units in the city, we have been speaking with local landlords to better understand the challenges involved in letting commercial premises in Chester to ensure BID activities make the city as attractive as possible to potential new businesses.
“Working with local photographers on this project has been great, as they’re really keen showcase the best of Chester and the unique, independent businesses that we are lucky to have here in the city centre.”