Getting the balance right
A HIGH street is thriving thanks to a better balance of shops, a campaign group says.
Co-founder of Better Chesham Martin Parkes believes Chesham’s high street has improved since the recession hit in 2008 and it is no longer dominated by cafes and charity shops.
“I think it’s becoming very positive,” he explained. “All units seem to be full now and the new markets seem to be working okay, everything seems to be thriving. We’re also getting a better balance of businesses with the new deli and green grocers, they compliment the town and it means cafes and charity shops are not dominating. The balance is getting better and the high street has more to offer people.
“I think in the future the high street will just keep improving.”
Mr Parkes thinks the high street has a good balance of chains and independents, with it having more of the latter, but admitted it does not really cater for under 30s who do not have a lot of money.
He added: “One of the things we have to be careful of is that we don’t just represent one element of the community.
“I’ve always said Chesham’s a fantastic place if you’re a professional over 30, then it’s got everything going for it. But if you’re under 30 and struggling then it’s a bit more difficult because they want things like Primark, and we’re never going to get chains like that because we don’t reflect the need. So we need to develop a better balance that reflects the buying needs of under 30s.”
Mr Parkes said that Chesham struggles to attract chains because of the size of the units in Better Chesham’s Martin Parkes believes the town has improved the high street. However, Better Chesham is lobbying for a change in planning laws to hopefully bring some more to the town.
Because the high street is in a conservation area it makes it difficult to join two buildings to make a bigger unit, however the group is suggesting that the front of the shop could look the same but the backs of the businesses could be knocked together.
Mr Parkes added: “That way we’ll have bigger shop units that represent modern purchasing.”