STUDENTS are being challenged to pitch ideas for a vacant shop unit to the professionals.

Clarks Village, in Street, has launched its enterprise challenge, Made in Somerset, with 30 Somerset youngsters taking part.

Participants from Crispin School Academy, in Street, and King Arthur’s School, Wincanton, are being asked to reimagine and repurpose the unit for the benefit of the Somerset community and guests.

They have joined three workshops ahead of designing their sustainable retail space, which they will pitch to an expert panel.

Made in Somerset looks to highlight the pivotal role the younger generation can play in shaping the retail landscape as a dynamic force for positive change within communities.

The challenge encourages them to consider the broader impact retail space has on the local community at a time when physical retail space is more about experiences, with shopping centres developing into social hubs.

The school engagement project is a joint venture between Clarks Village, its parent company Landsec, and Ahead Partnership, and is funded by the Landsec Futures Fund, which is dedicated to enhancing social value in its communities.

Chris Davis, centre director at Clarks Village, said: “The insight that we can gain from the students’ perspectives through Made in Somerset is invaluable to the successful future planning for Clarks Village.

"Listening to the opinions of the younger generation helps us continue to bring compelling retail experiences to our guests, that reflect their needs and interests.

"We are looking forward to the final presentations in March, to see what innovative ideas have come from the participants.

“Through the Made in Somerset initiative, individuals are also building self-confidence and skills to help them develop their own career paths.”

Georgina Johnson, programme manager at Ahead Partnership, said: “We’re delighted to be delivering the first-ever Made in Somerset challenge.

"We’re so grateful to the team at Clarks Village for committing their time, wisdom, and skills to support young people in their community with this interactive and creative challenge.

“It’s especially important that we give young people opportunities to visit and experience workplaces so that they can face the future with more confidence.”