Get­ting the bal­ance right

Buckinghamshire Advertiser - - FOCUS -

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.”


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