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Social’s Yorkshire office has been appointed to co-design and deliver a programme of public and stakeholder engagement for My City Centre York; a project that will create a Vision for the city.

The agency has been awarded a nine-month commission by City of York Council (CYC) after a competitive tendering process against agencies from across the country. The first phase of consultation will seek the views of residents, businesses and visitors on issues ranging from affordability, community and the environment to digital technologies, transport and the future of retail. Social will then support CYC to create the Draft Vision which will be consulted on later in the year.

York has the second lowest rate of empty city centre shops in the country and the city has been named the best place to live in Britain. But Council chiefs have warned that the seismic changes happening to high streets and city centres means no one can be complacent. My City Centre York is believed to be the first city-wide consultation of its type in the country, giving people from all parts of York an opportunity to shape its future.

Social will work closely with CYC to formulate the engagement and consultation approach and undertake the engagement programme across a range of stakeholders, including residents, local business owners, students and visitors. As well as public drop-in events and stakeholder workshops, a digital campaign will target younger and often under-represented audiences.

Pete Wrathmell, Managing Director of Social’s Yorkshire office, based in Leeds, said he was delighted to be working with City of York Council and paid tribute to their ambition in developing a long-term vision for the future of their city centre.

“York already has a strong city centre with many different assets, but it’s great to see the Council are not resting on their laurels. That they are working so closely with stakeholders from across the city to grapple with the challenges of the future shows an ambition and desire to lead the changes that will positively shape York for decades to come.

“High streets and city centres are facing a period of enormous change. We’re looking forward to working alongside City of York Council and having an extensive conversation with people in York about how best to manage these changes and prepare for the future.”

Councillor Andrew Waller, executive member for economic development and strategic planning, said: “There is no magic wand or single solution to the challenges facing city centres. We have to work together and listen to all our residents, businesses and other voices across the city to make sure central York is a place that residents love to use, is accessible to all, provides good jobs and allows people to move around sustainably.”

A full programme of activity is due to be unveiled soon including a key stakeholder event with retail expert Bill Grimsey. More information can be found by visiting