Three long-empty shop units in Castle Quay shopping centre are being brought back into use, thanks to an early project initiative by the new Banbury Business Improvement District (BID).
The BID has taken a six-month licence to occupy the three units at the Market Place end of Castle Quay alongside The Entertainer, on a pop up shop basis, with opportunity for an extended period if the project is a success.
It’s working with a range of existing Banbury town centre businesses and organisations to occupy the units – with the first just opened. The BID project team is also keen to hear from other town centre businesses who’d like to be involved going forward.
The three units are among a total of 30 that are empty and available around the town centre, according to the April 2018 audit by Banbury’s then town team co-ordinators. The pop up shop project is based on one of the priorities Banbury businesses identified in the pre-BID consultation: improving the look of empty units while work continues to let them. Banbury BID Board Chairman, Chris Tymon of Toast Design, says: “The Banbury BID Board are extremely happy to see the start of this very exciting project, and we’re grateful to the team at Castle Quay and its owners, Cherwell District Council, for their support in making this work. This project not only opens the doors of some of the town’s empty units, but it allows some of our smaller businesses to showcase their amazing products in a prominent location; this benefits everyone, shoppers, small businesses and Castle Quay. It’s very much the start of this project and I look forward to seeing it grow into the other two units, which we have some exciting plans for!”
Don Clark, Manager at the Boots Store at 12-14 Castle Quay and Banbury BID Board Member, says: “It is always refreshing to see new initiatives to re-invigorate Castle Quay shopping centre as well as providing an opportunity to others to benefit from the location. Empty units have a negative effect on all concerned, so I am pleased that we are taking action to remedy this situation.”
For the first three months, each of the units will have a theme.
The first to open is being occupied by a group of Banbury creative businesses – including six on Parsons Street: The Artery art supplies, Comic Connections comics, Fancy That gifts, Fellowship of the Needle tattooists, James.M.Photography, and J D’Cruz Bags plus local artists from Church Lane Gallery and E.Collins Photography in White Lion Walk – drawing on the town centre’s Creative & Cultural Quarter theme. It’s being co-ordinated by Barry Whitehouse, owner of The Artery and a driving force behind the artists collaborative gallery on Church Lane. One of the popupsters, photographer James Martin, says: “It is wonderful to be a part of this initiative as it has so many wider benefits for the town. Castle Quay benefits from having empty units filled and making that section of the shopping centre look more enticing for shoppers, and the businesses inside the pop up benefit from being able to showcase their shops to a wider and different audience, who may not even know they exist elsewhere in the town.”
Neil Wild, co-director of town centre specialists Flashop UK Ltd, is co-ordinating the project for Banbury BID, working with Castle Quay management, its managing agents, Montagu Evans, and the shopping centre owners, Cherwell District Council.
Any town centre business that would be interested in playing a part in the project going forward should contact Neil via firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07801 164034.
There’s more information about Banbury BID at www.banburybid.com, on its Facebook page and via @banburybid on Twitter.