Government Welcome Back Fund – how mapping can help town centres re-emerge

Oswestry header image for wayback fund By January 21st 2022

What is the Government Welcome Back Fund?

In response to the ongoing challenges faced by towns and cities in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, Local Authorities across England are sharing £56m of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money, intended to support the safe return of visitors to the high street. Known as the Welcome Back Fund, the funding provides councils with a new stream of money for a variety of possible initiatives aimed at supporting local trade and tourism.

Some initiatives that are permitted under the Welcome Back Fund

  • Investing in green space, parks and planting to make high streets more inviting
  • Publicity campaigns to draw visitors into town centres and help local businesses
  • Working with local stakeholders such as Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) to devise plans for safe re-opening
  • Refresh of marketing materials such as signage and messaging

Using well designed maps to drive engagement in town centres

In terms of marketing materials and messaging, good map design can play an extremely useful role in re-engaging with visitors to town centres and outlying destinations in several ways:

  • Map content can be designed to appeal to a variety of audiences, both business and tourist
  • Driving awareness of a location and it’s key offerings and points of interest
  • Help with navigation and orientation for new visitors
  • Drive footfall through key parts of the town to boost the local economy
  • Various formats can be used; map leaflets, posters, updated map signage, online

Examples of how map design could be used as part of Welcome Back Fund

Wayfinding Maps for Telford

This large-scale map of Telford distinguishes between buildings and pedestrian access, highlights green space, gives walking time guidance through radial circles and uses clear symbols for leisure activities. This map is designed to increase footfall through the town centre, a focus which can provide much needed assistance as local economies try to recover.

Wayfinding maps of Bracknell Industrial areas

This street level map of Bracknell focuses on the business areas, showing walking radials to encourage employees to both commute and exercise, also highlighting available green spaces and rail station proximity. In involving BIDs on Welcome Back Fund initiatives, good map design can encourage safe return to offices and help stimulate the local economy.

Oswestry Promotional Map - Lovell Johns Case Study image

This map of Oswestry focuses on the town centre and would typically be found on a noticeboard on a key arrival point in the town. Councils can use the Welcome Back Fund to replace outdated and faded visitor information with new and vibrant mapping, stimulating interest with key features and buildings highlighted in 3D. This map also highlights local green space, thus encouraging dwell time in the town and hopefully in turn stimulating the local economy.

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