Concern grows over Waterlooville town centre as yet more shops close

The Robert Dyas store in Dukes Walk, Waterlooville
The Robert Dyas store in Dukes Walk, Waterlooville
24/8/17

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FEARS have been raised over the future of Waterlooville town centre after more shops closed.

The most recent to shut their doors are Robert Dyas, Candy N’ Cards and Carpet Services.

And shoe shop Goodacre’s is set to close later this month.

The news strengthens widespread concerns that unless rent for retail outlets in the town centre is manageable, the area will continue to empty.

Waterlooville resident Jo Elcock, who has been shopping at the precinct since she moved there many years ago, said: ‘I’ve seen a sad decline in shops over the years and the current state of the town centre is shocking.

‘There are so many empty units which suggests rent is extortionate. The area needs help to survive.’

But while many shops are closing down, one charity store in Wellington Way has just extended its premises.

Terry Davies, regional manager for Stella’s Voice, thinks there’s still hope for the town centre yet.

He said: ‘Stella’s Voice is an anti-human trafficking charity and we’ve been at Wellington Way for one year.

‘We’ve just opened up another store adjacent to our first one, because we’re doing so well.

‘It’s a shame many other shops in the area are closing, but Stella’s Voice is an example of what can be achieved.

‘There’s still hope for the town centre and other retailers – but good leasing opportunities need to be made available.’

In May a focused scheme for Wellington Way was presented to Havant Borough Council for 190 studio flats. It would see the demolition of some existing shops.

Councillor Tim Pike, cabinet lead for strategic innovation, infrastructure and projects at the council, said: ‘These flats would not only bring a new housing product into the market, they could be a catalyst for bringing more footfall into the town.’

Havant Borough Council recently denied a developer permission to turn the town centre’s former Wellington pub into a three-storey building made up of eight flats.

A spokeswoman for Robert Dyas confirmed its store closed on July 1 when the company was unable to reach rent terms with its landlord.

She said: ‘The majority of staff have been offered roles at nearby stores including Fareham, Southsea, Chichester, and Petersfield, and we will continue to look for a possible new location in the area.’

Waterlooville resident Ella McAvery, 26, said: ‘I remember coming here with my mum as a young girl and it’s astonishing when you think about how many shops have emptied over time. There’s nothing here anymore.’