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Cheap Street traders slam lack of support

“We have already lost a bunch of retailers from this street and we are losing more"

Chris Ord

Reporter:

Chris Ord

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01635 886639

Cheap Street traders slam lack of support

BUSINESS owners in Cheap Street say they feel they are being forced out of the area owing to a deliberate lack of support from West Berkshire Council.

Retailers say their businesses have suffered because of a number of recent council decisions affecting the southern end of Newbury town centre and, when coupled with a rise in rates payable to Newbury BID, have led to an almost untenable situation.

Stephen McKinnon, who set up Abstract Bodyworks Gym in Kings Road West, said the new Market Street development which will encourage train passengers to exit via Market Street rather than Cheap Street, as well as proposed parking restrictions during the day will mean many of the retailers will choose to relocate.

He said: “It’s already happening.

“If you look up the road there are to-let signs all over the place.

“We have already lost a bunch of retailers from this street and we are losing more.

“I think they want to make this whole area residential so they want us out.

“And if that’s what West Berkshire Council want to have happen then they need to say it so people can make provisions for that.”

Inna Khan, landlady of the King Charles Tavern said footfall had already significantly dropped along the town centre street.

She said: “We are paying rent, we don’t own the property, and already there’s been a drop in sales, probably due to a lack of footfall.

“You want to go where the people are.

“This end of town has been neglected.”

Some retailers have said the introduction of parking charges for those staying longer than half an hour (introduced last year), coupled with new proposals to remove parking bays during daytime trading hours will further lead to a drop in customers.

Newbury Town councillor Elizabeth O’Keeffe (Lib Dem, Victoria) did not agree that retailers were being deliberately driven out, however, she did admit that more needs to be done to encourage businesses to move to the area.

She said: “We need to move forward in developing parts of the town and keeping up with other towns around but in doing that we have neglected these older trading areas like Bartholomew Street and Cheap Street in some ways.

“It’s keeping the independent shops which are more attractive to people but also encouraging larger businesses to come to Newbury.

“The Market Street development won’t bring much to Cheap Street as people will be encouraged to leave the other way.

“And this whole business of bringing the traffic around that way is going to cause further problems for them.

“I think they have been neglected what we should be doing is trying to regenerate this area - we ought to be looking at keeping these niche businesses because you need that mix.”

West Berkshire councillor and Newbury town councillor James Frederickson said the feedback gained from traders through the parking consultation was “positive” and was adamant West Berkshire Council was working to make the area more attractive to businesses.

When asked if Cheap Street and Bartholomew Street had been neglected in favour of areas such as Parkway he said: “I think whenever you have redevelopment we will always go area by area.

Pointing to the proposed revamp of the Kennet Shopping centre he added: “The re-development we are seeing there is going to address that.

“There’s a lot of investment we’ve got the shopping centre and around the cinema which is very exciting so there’s a lot going on but these things take time.

“It’s frustrating that it can’t happen immediately.”

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Article comments

  • Bombey

    23/06/2017 - 11:11

    Walked along Cheap St yesterday. The only shop which had closed recently was the RSPCA charity shop.

    Reply

  • ResidentNewbury

    22/06/2017 - 19:07

    30 minutes free parking is definitely one of the issues. In the past when you could park for an hour there was time to pop into the bakery or have a look in some of the other shops. Now it is a straight run into the Kennet Centre to either buy a coupon of items or to go and buy tickets for the cinema or Corn Exchange. Bring back the free parking for at least an hour or even two!!

    Reply

  • JonnyRoberts87

    22/06/2017 - 15:03

    West Berkshire councillor and Newbury town councillor James Frederickson... When asked if Cheap Street and Bartholomew Street had been neglected in favour of areas such as Parkway he said: “I think whenever you have redevelopment we will always go area by area." Area by area - precisely the problem, no joined up thinking, no overarching planning. These businesses need reassurance, many wouldn't mind moving if there was a plan to redevelop the units into residential and find space elsewhere for example a rejuvenated Kennet Centre but they need to be involved in the planning.

    Reply

  • Browntrout

    22/06/2017 - 13:01

    Parking Charges are definitely the key component in this - it is such short term thinking by WBC. Business rate reductions should be pushed through to help these businesses survive. With that being said - These businesses should band together and promote their offerings to remind people why we should search them out. NWN could do an editorial and maybe some free advertising to help them raise their profile.

    Reply

    • EugeneStryker

      22/06/2017 - 16:04

      Out of interest, on what do you base the statement 'parking charges are definitely the key component in this'? I can't find any research that suggests that this is the case and in fact although retailers perceive parking as one of the reasons behind lack of footfall, surveys of shoppers suggest other factors are much more influential. If people can park cheaply or free for long periods of time, doesn't that reduce the rate of parking space turnover and lead to lower footfall.

      Reply

      • Browntrout

        23/06/2017 - 14:02

        There is data out there to support both sides of this argument. What I am trying to say is Reduce the charges for parking for short periods of time - Max 2hrs no return, no Long stay in that area. Keep the flow of Visitors up and allow the local businesses to have a chance to capture their trade. That being said - their main issue is Business Rates (Loads of Info out there on that).

        Reply

      • Bombey

        23/06/2017 - 11:11

        "If people can park cheaply or free for long periods of time, doesn't that reduce the rate of parking space turnover and lead to lower footfall" - of course it does. If there were no parking restrictions on Cheap St & it was free, all of the spaces would be full by 7am with cars belonging to commuters who had caught a train to London.

        Reply

        • Browntrout

          23/06/2017 - 14:02

          Yes - You would be right. To increase footfall WBC should offer free or reduced rate parking for up to 2hrs max no return to encourage more people to park there. Spaces would free up more regularly and potentially more people would visit that part of town. WBC needs to encourage more visitors - this might help.

          Reply

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