Views are being sought on how best to revive a part of Swindon's Old Town, blighted by derelict shops and offices.
The borough council said the high number of empty properties in Victoria Road had a negative impact on the area.
Questionnaires are being sent to owners and occupiers, to find out what improvements they would like to see.
A council statement said: "It's clear that Victoria Road needs new life breathing into it and we're looking at how this can be done."
Anne Farthing, who runs Penny Farthing Antiques said she felt as if the area was dying.
"There's a lot of shop fronts that look very very untidy and I think that these should be tidied up," she said.
"If people don't want to spend money, there's artists in the town that could put their work in the windows."
Newsagent Rose Earl, a member of the Old Town Business and Professional Association, said free-parking would help.
"I go down to my local supermarket and I find people buying a packet of cigarettes and a newspaper which they could buy from me," she said.
"Once you stop people being able to park for a short period of time or being able to park cheaply, or even for free close by, then businesses inevitably go into decline."