With a £35 million re-development opening in time for Christmas shopping, some people are concerned about the future of Rugby town centre.
Brands such as Fat Face, Debenhams, River Island and Nando’s have set up at Elliott’s Field shopping park off Leicester Road, Rugby.
Some of the stores are open now, with others joining them over the coming weeks and months.
Despite the town offering a range of independent shops, cafes and boutiques, some residents are concerned that the retail park will dominate trading.
Marks and Spencer will be closing its town centre branch on November 17 and opening its out of town store on November 18.
The Heart of England Co-operative Society recently announced it was closing its home and electrical store in Chapel Street, near Asda.
But Rugby First remains positive and Aftab Gaffar, the managing director of the town centre management company, said the town had a vibrant mix of shops and people would visit the town for its ‘cafe culture’.
The Advertiser asked its readers on Facebook what changes need to be made in order for the town centre to remain competitive and not be over shadowed by Elliott’s Field.
Donna Haycox said: “The town cannot compete, it needs knocking down and starting again. Clock Towers leaking roof means you have to dodge buckets on wet days, the lifts are always out of order, and the escalator by Dunelm sounds like its had better days. Loads of empty shops.”
Siobhan Healey said: “I think that we’ve got some great independent shops and restaurants in the town centre and I’d still make a trip to town for those. What I do think would help would be a Primark - the demographic is right and it would definitely encourage more footfall into town which would be a benefit.”
Claire Brindley-Taylor commented: “What town centre? The only shops we have are charity shops and coffee shops. There are no shops worth going to in the town centre anymore. It will die a slow death if the Clock Towers isn’t improved dramatically. Who wants to dodge buckets on a rainy day? This has been going on for years and years. Something needs doing and quick before more shops close down.”
A spokesperson for the Dunchurch Vintage Craft Fayre said: “We really don’t want the ‘plastic shops’ to take over, nor do we want the heart of the town to be re-located. Let’s support our town’s heritage; invest in the independent trader, offer an alternative shopping experience that will encourage not just locals to shop in town but also visitors. There are plenty of towns and cities that have faced a similar case of short sightedness; we need to look and learn from those that have made a positive transition and succeeded.”
Gemma Wallwin said: “I’ll still pop into town for a nice lunch that’s not from the chains, the likes of Delish Kitchen, Summersault, Bacco Lounge, Papillon etc attract me in.”
Gill Jones commented: “They need to make more of the market. Rugby used to have a brilliant market years ago.”
Sarah Peabody said: “I went up to Elliott’s Field the other week and only half the stores were open and I still couldn’t find a parking space.
“What’s it going to be like when Christmas shopping kicks in and the sales start?”
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