New shops boost for Leigh Park - and a new gym

Picture: Malcolm Wells

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FOUR more shops are set to open in a shopping centre once considered a no-go zone.

Park Parade, in Leigh Park, was once filled with empty shops – some of which had been boarded up for more than 20 years.

But over the past two years, after landlord Mark Smith bought up the precinct, it has seen an influx of independent shops opening.

In the next month four more are set to open – a beauty shop, a wooden gift shop, an holistic therapy salon and an E-Cigarette shop.

And in the new year the large unit behind the former Netto supermarket will become a gym.

Jennifer Banner is opening a craft shop with her friend Paula Wilson-Church.

She said: ‘I chose Park Parade because I live here and there is nothing else like it in the area. Mark (Smith) was kind enough to give me a chance and let me rent one of his shops.

‘What I’m doing is really different. The main thing we will be selling is fairy wings made of wood which can be worn or put up as pieces of art. I have just come back from Glastonbury where there is a big demand.

‘I need somewhere I can use for my workshop too so this is perfect.

‘We are hoping people will travel to the shop because some of our work is far too big to post.’

A planning application is already in with Havant Borough Council requesting a change of use from a storage unit to the gym.

The owner Craig Linton plans to make it a high-end gym which would employ local personal trainers.

Currently the nearest gym to Leigh Park is Horizon Leisure Centre, in Havant.

Mr Smith said: ‘I think it will do really well.

‘They will be turning what is currently storage space into an area of employment.

‘On top of that the owner has already expressed that he will be taking on GP referrals from the Havant area for people who are unwell and have been ordered to get fit by their doctor.

‘That means they are doing something for the wider community too.

‘I’m really pleased that so many new shops are opening in the run up to Christmas.

‘Over the last few years the area has seen some changes with more independents taking the opportunity to open new businesses in Leigh Park, some of this is due to the help of low rents and low business rates.’