YET another shop closed its doors on Grantham for the last time on Saturday after struggling to get enough trade - But instead of panic, this has sparked a rallying call from the business club to campaign for Grantham’s greatness.
Steve Clark, who is owner of Access Models, in Market Place, Grantham, started the store over 20 years ago but said the pending Market Place redevelopment is one of the main reasons why he is leaving now.
He said: “This side of town is virtually dead and I think it’s going to get worse with the Market Place issue, I can’t see why you would pedestrianise this area, parking is much more useful. It’s all charity shops or banks here and that’s it.”
Steve said it was a tough decision to leave Grantham and consolidate his business in his Newark shop but he is a lot more successful there.
He said: “I’m sad to be leaving Grantham. I’ve had some fantastic customers, hopefully they will come with us to Newark. We’ve had poor sales here for a couple of years now and I think losing parking spaces is going to add to the problems - Pedestrianisation is going to be a bad thing.
“I can see it getting worse if anything in Grantham. It’s not looking good.”
Chairman of Grantham Business Club Bijal Ladva is sad to see another independent retailer leave the town but he thinks the Market Place regeneration is going to be a good thing.
He said: “At the end of the day we don’t want anyone to go. But any work to improve Grantham and attract more people into the town as residents or people spending money in our businesses is absolutely welcome.”
The business club has organised meetings in an attempt to protect any businesses that may be effected by the work. But Bijal added that the most important thing is to restore pride in the town and attract businesses.
He said: “People say Grantham hasn’t got any shops so they’re not coming in but it’s such a great town and we’ve hopefully got more to offer than some of our competitors.
“We want to advertise what we have got not what we haven’t got. I was in town on Friday night, it was absolutely buzzing, it was great. We really want people to be proud of Grantham. It’s a great night out and a great day out. Come to Grantham!”
THE regeneration of Grantham’s Market Place will be a big boost the town.
This is the mantra from the district and county councils, who are working together to redevelop the once bustling area. It is hoped that by making the zone more pedestrian-friendly and attractive, retailers will come back into the shopping area and help it to thrive.
Les Outram, Lincolnshire County Council’s senior project leader, said: “The project is aimed at making the Market Place and Westgate more pedestrian-friendly and a more attractive environment to benefit businesses and traders.
“We hope the improvements can help the Market Place thrive and provide a great economic boost to the town.”
Mr Outram added that the work will culminate in improved loading/unloading facilities and improved pedestrian provision. Meanwhile, the pavements will include artwork relevent to the history of Grantham.
He said: “Although there must be some loss of parking, the area will be more attractive to prospective traders, visitors and residents and should therefore improve the trading viability of the area.”
Access to all businesses will be maintained to minimise the effect on traders throughout the works, which will be complete by September 30.
A number of traders in Grantham have aired their concerns about the Market Place make-over, but South Kesteven District Council sees it as one of many boosts to businesses.
A spokesman said: “The economic regeneration of our town centres is crucial and we are committed to investing in a number of initiatives to help this.”
Other schemes either in effect or in the pipeline are reduced short-stay car parking charges, shop front grants to help improve appearances, an investment of £4 million over the next four years in new employment sites, and the long-awaited ‘Station Approach’ project by the railway station.
The launch of the annual Grantham Festival and biennial science and arts festival will also bring in visitors, boost trade and raise Grantham’s profile, SKDC hopes.