Lack of diversity hurts High Streets

TRADERS and business leaders have had their say following a report which claims clusters of takeaways and betting shops are hampering the High Street.

Research from the Local Government Association, which represents town halls, has found that council officers felt that clusters of takeaways, strip clubs, and betting shops were stunting the growth of town centres.

The report claimed that such clustered outlets damage efforts to attract shoppers and rejuvenate struggling town centres and called for a more diverse High Street offer.

Traders in Kettering felt the report rung true about their town.

Sam Hutchings, owner of Honeykitten in Market Street, Kettering, said: “There is just a complete lack of diversity in the town.

“If you look at the shops, they are all charity shops, coffee shops and 99p stores so I do think clusters of these shops don’t help.

“Kettering is not a destination shopping place like Market Harborough, there’s a lack of variety in the town.”

David Aguilar, owner of Bee Inspired craft store in Market Place, said: “I don’t think there is much choice in the town.

“There are too many similar stores like the discount shops.”

Feedback from council officials found that most wanted retailers, restaurants, and local butchers and bakers.

A previous LGA opinion poll showed more than a third of the public claimed clustering deterred them from their local high street, cutting footfall and sales.

Adrian House, chairman of Rushden Chamber of Trade and Commerce, said: “The reason for the High Street declining is that rents are too high, and we’ve got over-zealous landlords that are asking for too much and holding the town back. The High Street is changing. Coffee shops act as meeting places.”

John Cable, of Wellingborough Business Improvement District, said: “I don’t feel Wellingborough has too many betting shops, but we do have a lot of estate agents in a cluster and the same happens with takeaways.”