New shops scheme aims to boost town centre

The High Street is one of the areas to be targeted

A SCHEME aimed at attracting independent shops to Abingdon, supporting existing retailers and increasing town centre vitality, is be introduced in the town centre this summer.

Vale of White Horse District Council is launching the Independent Shops Project that will see key partners working with the council to develop initiatives to support independent businesses in the town centre.

The scheme will develop a target list of the types of businesses that would complement the independent offering in the town centre.

The district council will then work with landlords and agents to identify and overcome issues which may prevent businesses from moving into the town’s empty shops, particularly those in Bath Street, Stert Street and the High Street.

The project will also work to attract pop-up shops to the town to allow potential retailers to test the market and to attract new independent businesses.

The Independent Shops Project will be managed by Iain Nicholson, a town centre specialist who has worked on a number of successful initiatives, including town team projects in Wantage, Banbury, Swindon and Wallingford.

Iain’s work in 2014 to help fill shop units in Wantage was instrumental in the town winning a Great British High Street Award.

Businesses interested in the pop-up shop opportunity or discussing initiatives to strengthen independent business should contact Iain on 01869 350322. Cllr Mike Murray, cabinet member for economic development at Vale of White Horse District Council, said “We know how frustrating it is to see empty units in the town.

“It’s our aim for the Independent Shops Project to have a real impact by supporting existing businesses and attracting new retailers to Abingdon.”

In addition to the Independent Shops Project, Vale of White Horse District Council continues to support businesses by contributing funds and resources to the Abingdon BID.

In year one (2016/17) the Vale contributed approximately £34,000 towards the scheme, in addition to ongoing support and advice from the council’s economic development team.

Free advice is on offer from Vale4Business, which works with developers and retailers who are looking to move to the Abingdon area.

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