Waterlooville business owner demands answers on future of Wellington Way, a street left ‘in ruins’ with ‘dilapidated’ empty shop fronts

THE owner of Waterlooville’s greengrocer says his business needs clarity on the future of Wellington Way as it faces 50 per cent reduction in footfall.

By Emily Jessica Turner
Saturday, 5th June 2021, 4:43 pm

Surrounded by ‘dilapidated’ and empty shop fronts, Waterlooville Fruiterers is one of only a few stores still trading on this street.

Owner Andy Price is speaking out about the issues his business is facing, saying that he doesn’t know what council or landlord plans are for the town centre and what this means for the future of the greengrocers.

Andy said: ‘With the shops being completely dilapidated it’s not a nice facility to come and shop in, especially when you factor in that so many new homes have been built in Waterlooville over the last few years.

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Andrew Price, owner of Wellington Way Greengrocers is pictured in his shop and is speaking out about problems with the street and the amount of closed shops. Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘You’d think you’d have a nicer environment for a shopping centre, and it’s been left in decline for so many years now.

‘Personally we’ve suffered significant footfall loss - if you look back at a couple of years ago, before Covid, we’re finding about 50 per cent less customers in comparison.

‘So many of the ceilings in the shops have fallen through, and we’re in a situation where we have no knowledge of exactly what the landlord or council’s plans are going forward with regards to Waterlooville town centre.’

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Andrew Price in Wellington Way. Picture: Sam Stephenson

Andy estimates that when he first took a lease out 19 years ago, Wellington Way was about 90 per cent full of shops, but now around 20 per cent of premises are occupied.

He said: ‘It’s been in a gradual decline for six or seven years.

‘Now we’re trying to maintain a business that isn’t trading in a different environment.

‘You have your hardcore customers who come to you on a weekly basis, and without them we wouldn’t be there today.

Shop fronts in Wellington Way. Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘Particularly with greengrocers, with a fresh food environment, you rely on a footfall of passing people - people going to other shops who then would see your display out the shop and generate the extra business you need to survive.’

Andy says that he is unable to get answers about the future of Wellington Way.

He said: ‘We’ve had no dialogue with the landlord for a number of years. I couldn’t even tell you what the landlord’s names are. No conversation whatsoever.

‘It would be nice if the council could inform us about the plans that they would like to see in the short, medium and long-term future.

Inside one of the empty shops. Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘We have no idea what’s happening, going forward. There’s no planning application that has been granted for any development to take place.

‘We’re just trying to keep going for as long as we can.’

Cllr Tim Pike, cabinet lead for regeneration at Havant Borough Council, said: ‘Wellington Way has been identified in our local plan as a site that would be appropriate for “high-quality, high-density residential development”.

‘We do have an application in for the site, which is currently on hold.

‘The regeneration of the area will bring more people to the town and improve the prospects for businesses that serve them.

Wellington Way. Picture: Sam Stephenson

‘In the meantime, businesses in the area need the support of residents by choosing to shop locally.’

There is a planning application submitted for the demolition of existing shopping parade and redevelopment of the site to provide a nine storey building consisting of 264 build to rent apartments and associated amenity facilities and an A2 unit together with associated parking and landscaping.

A separate planning application for the erection of a three-storey multi-storey car park to provide 263 car parking spaces on the existing Wellington Way car park has also been submitted.

Andy added: ‘It’s such a shame that a town with so many houses has been left with a town centre that’s really in ruins.’

‘We do continue to trade, against all the odds - fingers crossed we continue to trade in Waterlooville in the future.’

Savills estate agents was contacted for comment.

A message from the Editor, Mark Waldron

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Inside an empty shop front. Picture: Sam Stephenson