MUST Hungerford embrace change to thrive?
Last month Martin Bakker, of High Street floral designer Martin and the Magpie, wrote an open letter to residents via the Newbury Weekly News urging them to consider allowing quality chain stores.
We asked for your views.
Here’s a selection of them:
Hungerford Club stalwart Ken Nisbett said: “The town is always packed when it puts on events.
“But parking restrictions make it more difficult to attract people in.
“I also understand that the business rates are very high.
“A lot of the commercial property is privately owned and people have to pay very high ground rents.
Town resident Josh Kerry said: “I’ve been trying to rent one of the empty shops on Hungerford High Street but the price is astronomical.
“It’s a crying shame because it’s remained a derelict eyesore for over two years.”
Lambourn parish councillor Elizabeth Spence said: “You’ve already got stores like the Co-op, Tesco and Martins – how many more do you want?
“A chain store would be to the detriment of the small independent stores that make Hungerford unique.”
Hungerford businesswoman Jean Johnson said: “The town should have lower business rates and two hours’ free parking.
“And I agree with Martin Bakker. Residents would like a Marks and Spencer, a pizza bar or coffee chain for youngsters.”
Kintbury resident Kerry Richards said: “I have noticed with regret how Newbury has evolved over the years from an attractive market town with considerable character to one which is now the same as hundreds of others.
“I remember the interesting shops in Inches Yard. I can only presume they were all priced out and the chain stores were all able to pay the higher rental.
“For Hungerford, it’s not too late.
“I agree with (Hungerford Bookshop’s) Alex Milne-White and (Hungerford Arcade’s) Adrian Gilmour that Hungerford should stick to its guns and avoid allowing even one chain store, which would set a precedent.
“Instead, let’s celebrate Hungerford’s uniqueness and charm.
“Far from failing to thrive, Hungerford stands out as a town that withstands the pressures to develop in a certain way in the name of progress and as a result will be prized and valued all the more in the future.”
Hungerford Chamber of Commerce member Ken Findlay said: “The town would benefit from the input and acceptance of a few nationally recognised names on the High Street, especially if their inclusion was achieved on a managed, professional basis.
“Marlborough appears to be a good example where both independents and nationals appear to co-exist quite nicely.
“Not to allow some nationals to prosper in the town may allow the number of empty high street properties to increase and make the town an unattractive place to visit with more empty premises and ‘To Let’ boards becoming more obvious.”
He added: “Hungerford has the potential to offer a lot more to existing townsfolk, new businesses, tourist visitors and business visitors.
“I genuinely believe that it will not be able to fully realise this potential without considering fresh initiatives and fresh input from new retailers, irrespective of whether they are established national names or not.”