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Designer retail centres could benefit Grantham High Street, says councillor

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Out-of-town shopping villages aren’t necessarily a threat to high streets, a councillor has said.

A £125 million designer shopping centre was recently approved at Downtown, Great Gonerby, sparking fears that it could take custom away from Grantham town centre.

However, South Kesteven District Council leader Kelham Cooke (Con) said that they will attract different clientèle, and the high street could even benefit from the new development.

More than 100 retail units are planned as part of the Downtown designer outlet centre. (51090167)
More than 100 retail units are planned as part of the Downtown designer outlet centre. (51090167)

“The likes of Ralph Lauren and Tommy Hilfiger won’t come to Grantham town centre, but they could come here,” he said at a meeting today (Tuesday).

“People will drive there and spend money in Grantham as a result.

“It’s estimated that around 10 per cent of the £3.5 million it will generate will come to the high street, but if it’s only one percent, that would still be fantastic.

“It will bring jobs and money to the area.”

Tweaked plans for the shopping centre on Old Great North Road were passed for the third time last month, with the potential for 107 outlet stores and 2,000 parking spaces.

There were objections that the scheme from Oldrid & Co would be detrimental for other towns and shopping centres.

A second designer outlet village is already under construction south of the town between the A1 and Spittlegate level where a new junction on the A1, part of the southern relief road, is being built.

Councillor Cooke’s remarks came as the council’s Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Scrutiny Committee heard updates on Grantham’s Future High Street Fund.

The plans include grants to convert the unused upper floors of town centre shops into homes.

Currently, applications have been submitted for 18 of the target 24 units. It is hoped that this will help to revitalise the town centre.

Councillor Philip Knowles said: “We need to build up a critical mass of customers. If there are good quality shops, then the new flats will be full.

“This is a good start in ensuring that the town is busy again.”

He added that the town centre hadn’t always been managed well, saying he was upset at how “half of the Watergate shopping centre had been pulled down and left as a car park” previously.

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