Fri, 11 Jul 2014
Questions over the future of the Kennet Centre were brought to the fore again this week, as the Debenhams Outlet confirmed it would be closing in August.
Talks have once again risen in the community about retailers such as Primark and BhS setting up shop there, however these have not been confirmed, while others called for the large unit to be returned to a number of smaller units as per the centre’s original design.
One request for an Asda supermarket was also put forward on the NewburyToday forum.
The loss of the Debenhams Outlet, which occupies the largest unit in the Kennet Centre, follows the departure of other major retailers including the main Debehams store and fashion chain New Look, which both moved to the Parkway shopping centre when it opened in 2011.
The news comes in the same year that the £100,000 subsidy provided by West Berkshire Council to support Vue Cinema is to cease.
When asked if the council was concerned over the future of the Kennet Centre, West Berkshire Council spokeswoman, Peta Stoddart-Crompton, said: “The council is in ongoing discussion with the Kennet Centre and other businesses in the town as part of their commitment to ensuring that the southern end of the town remains vibrant.
“These include potential improvements to the Kennet Centre car park and also the development of Market Street which will offer significant enhancement.”
She added that, other than the cinema subsidy, the council provided no financial support to the Kennet Centre, however said it wouldn’t rule out providing support if required in the future.
“It would depend on the circumstances and, of course, the council’s own economic situation at that time,” she said. “The council would consider any representation from the owners in consultation with other partners such as Newbury Town Council and Newbury BID.”
However, it is not all doom and gloom, as the owners of Nelson's Diner, Kingsclere, is to open another diner next to Nando's, with hopes to be open by Christmas.
The Kennet Centre first opened its doors to the public in 1975 as a 50-unit shopping complex, however some of the units - including the one currently occupied by the Debenhams Outlet - were merged to make it more enticing for larger retailers.
Kennet Centre owners Alanis, an Irish-based property firm, has not responded to questions put to them by the Newbury Weekly News on Wednesday.