Clock Towers boss: Planners are damaging the town centre

Tony Spencer believes action is needed to stop the town declining
Tony Spencer believes action is needed to stop the town declining

Approval of the latest planning application to expand one of Rugby’s retail parks is another blow to the town centre, claims the manager of the Clock Towers.

Rugby Borough Council approved plans last week for additional retail units at Junction One. This comes after a court cleared the way for work to start on a multi-million pound revamp of Elliott’s Field.

And Tony Spencer, who manages the Clock Towers shopping centre, is fearful for the future of the town centre.

He said: “It will be even more difficult now to attract quality retailers to the town centre.

“Footfall for existing retailers will also be affected, which will make it harder to keep them here. It will create a vacuum as businesses move out.

“The council’s planning policy could mean short-term gain for long-term drain.”

Mr Spencer called on the borough council to conduct a “complete review” of business rates and parking restrictions to enable the town centre to “compete on a level playing field” with retail parks.

“Rugby isn’t big enough to accommodate all these new retail developments. Even if the thousands of extra houses earmarked for Rugby are built, the town still won’t have the population to support them all.”

CBRE, the owner of the Clock Towers, had drawn up plans to upgrade the 40-year-old shopping centre. The company now says these proposals are being reassessed in the light of the approval for the expansion of Elliott’s Field and Junction One.

Cllr Heather Timms, the borough councillor with special responsibility for the economy and planning, said: “Rugby is expanding and can accommodate more shops. Development of retail parks will encourage more people to shop locally rather than at places like Fosse Park.

“We are listening to retailers and will continue to work with them to make the town centre attractive to shoppers but they also need to invest.

“The Clock Towers is badly in need of renovation and I would urge its owners to go through with its plans to upgrade it.”

A decision on plans to convert bowling alley Superbowl into a Matalan store was postponed at last week’s meeting.