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4th Jul, 2022

Confidence high for future of Leamington town centre after testing times

Editorial Correspondent 2nd Feb, 2022 Updated: 2nd Feb, 2022

OPTIMISIM remains over the future prospects for Leamington town centre.

Traders have been battered by the strain of nearly two years dealing with Covid restrictions. The impact is evident in the number of empty shops visible on town centre streets and in the Royal Priors shopping centre.

The newly formed Royal Leamington Spa Town Centre Transformation Board – made up of cross-party councillors from all tiers of local government – was unveiled last week.

With input from key town centre organisations and representatives it aims to breathe new life into the town centre – co-ordinating new development programmes, projects, funding bids and regeneration schemes.

Leamington BID – Leamington’s Business Improvement District led by business people trading in the town – will be among the key players looking to revive the town centre’s fortunes.

And Stephanie Kerr, executive director of BID Leamington, is confident that can be done.

She told The Observer: “Despite the roller coaster of Covid challenges which has impacted businesses in different ways, we have also seen extraordinary resilience, adaption and innovation which leaves us optimistic for the future.

“Though many retail and leisure sector businesses were already trading online, via social media and using delivery services, lockdowns amplified this, whilst also reminding customers how important it is to support their local businesses who offer personal service.

“Reflecting this, we are confident that support for our high street and its businesses remains strong, as evidenced last year when between September and November, with the help of local events, footfall reached 2019 pre-pandemic levels – a trend not seen in many other towns and cities.

“We know the December ‘Plan B’ announcement and associated uncertainty dampened footfall and trade, so navigating this and recovering from a typically quiet January is our priority.

“Looking forwards our focus is on welcoming customers back, supporting businesses and working in partnership to benefit from fantastic events this summer including the Queen’s Jubilee celebrations and the Commonwealth Games.

“We are also welcoming new businesses, more ‘co-working’ in offices and cafes, and significant new investment into the town centre, including the Creative Quarter and changes to some large units.

“Pre-pandemic 70 per cent of local businesses were independent and we hope this remains, and we will likely see additional office space and residential uses which will support a healthy mix.

“We also hope Warwick District Council’s recently formed a ‘Transformation Board’ will support greater collaboration between councils and local stakeholders, an equitable shift towards a greener future and foster greater community health and wellbeing.”

 

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