Traders in Banbury’s Parsons Street have welcomed the latest business to join them – as it takes on a unit there that’s thought to have been empty for more than six years.
Simon Hammans is opening his specialist outdoor clothing and equipment business, freshairjunkie (www.freshairjunkie.co.uk), in the former Bernard Smith’s Curtain Shop at 38 Parsons Street.
He says: “I’ve been looking to move to a more central location for a number of years now, and am really excited to have been offered this opportunity. There are a huge number of people in the area who spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors, whether walking, camping, climbing, cycling or watersports, and I know that these people really understand the importance of quality clothing and equipment. Moving to the Old Town will hopefully make us more accessible for our existing customers, as well as giving new customers the opportunity to see what we offer.”
The move into the long empty unit has been welcomed as good news for the area by Parsons Street traders. Barry Whitehouse from The Artery says: “It is wonderful news to have another independent shop coming to Parsons Street, which I hope will bring a wider range of shoppers and visitors to the Old Town area.”
The unit was one of the 53 town centre retail and hospitality units listed as empty and available when Banbury town team co-ordinators Neil Wild and Iain Nicholson compiled an audit as part of their role in May this year. Three months on the figure stands at 44 – a reduction of 18% with expressions of interest having been registered on a number of other town centre properties.
Cherwell District Council appointed the two town team co-ordinators in April to drive a project, which is focusing on boosting footfall, working with landlords and agents to reduce the number of empty town centre shops, and exploring opportunities to bring the pop up and community shop concepts to Banbury. Neil Wild and Iain Nicholson were appointed on a 12-month, part time contract, to lead the project and work with existing town centre partners including the Old Town Association, the Chamber of Commerce, Castle Quay, the Town Council, the markets operator, existing businesses and other town centre stakeholders. Their brief also includes identifying any gaps in the town’s retail and leisure offer, promoting Banbury to would-be new town centre businesses, and helping to develop initiatives that reduce the “leakage” of spending power that Banbury experiences by people in the town and village hinterland shopping elsewhere.