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Still hope for Spalding town centre despite empty units

Spalding town centre now has a total of 10 empty shops.

Calls have been made for lower rents to attract more independent traders and make the town a destination place.

Last week it was announced that Dorothy Perkins is facing closure after the chain was bought by Boohoo leading to around 2,450 job losses nationally.

The empty Air ambulance charity shop in Sheep Market, Spalding (44396816)
The empty Air ambulance charity shop in Sheep Market, Spalding (44396816)

Other empty shops in the town centre include the former Tui, Clinton’s, Beales and Lloyds.

Trader Emma Peake, who runs Daisies Flower Shop in The Crescent, is hopeful that the town could become similar to the likes of Wells-next-the-Sea and Holt, in North Norfolk.

She said: “I am hoping that we can attract more independent shops so we can become a nice market town and a destination. It would be amazing to have TX Maxx in Spalding but I don’t think that big names will be interested in the town.”

She also said that landlords can play their part by making rents low in order to attract more traders.

Emma added: “I hope that when we can open again that there is going to be a real oomph about it with flags being put out.”

Spalding & District Civic Society chair John Bland said: “It has certainly been a challenging time for the High Street, and I am sure that Spalding is faring no better or worse than anywhere else.

“We are fortunate that Coney’s have chosen to buy the Hills store, and their investment must be welcomed.

“Whilst we have lost some shops, I do not believe that the end of the High Street is nigh.Many people still like to go into a shop and physically inspect something before committing to buy it if they can. Indeed there may be ten empty shops, but there are many more open shops. I think that we must do all we can to support local retailers, but they also have a part to play in promoting themselves.

“Some are using the internet to market themselves, more than others. Those that are doing so, are investing in their own future and the town’s future. It would be good to see some kind of collaborative effort for them to market themselves, and the town.

“They could come together to help develop a town centre website that would enable a greater awareness of the independent shops that we do have.

“As regards the empty shops, I hope that the landlords will recognise that they have a part to play in supporting the High Street and new business start-ups through the provision of flexible leases that may encourage a new generation of entrepreneurs to have a go at filling the gaps left by the national retailers.

“Every new independent shop will help to add to what Spalding has to offer. If the support is there from national and local government we could eventually see a mixture of shops that are unique, thereby making the town different to any other town.

“We also have the natural benefit of the river, just a stone’s throw from the town centre. How many towns have that?

“We could be about to embark on some exciting times for the town, thanks to the regeneration ideas that the Town Centre Regeneration Steering Group have been discussing.”

Coun Harry Drury, South Holland District Council portfolio holder for commercialisation and growth, said: “The past year has been unprecedentedly hard for the nation’s retailers, both large chains and small independent stores, and this is reflected in high streets up and down the country, including in Spalding.

“These pressures, plus the current lockdown, make it incredibly difficult for new businesses to set-up or expand into the district, but we continue to have open dialogue with the landlords of our units and potential retailers to do what we can to help. We also continue to support retailers who are required to close due to the current restrictions through grant schemes, with payments of a minimum of £6,000 administered by us to each such retailer across the district during January and February.

“As we emerge from this challenging period, the town centre improvement plan and the expertise and experience of the partners, residents and organisations who form the steering group will be key in helping us take the next steps towards revitalising our town centre.”

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