SOME members of the public have spoken out in disagreement over the claim that Portchester town centre is dying.
This comes after the news that almost 200 people have signed a petition for Fareham Borough Council to improve the High Street.
The campaign urged the council to rejuvenate the centre, as well as highlighting fears over the impact a future Lidl store could have on village trade.
Councillor Nick Walker spoke in favour of the petition, saying that something needed to be done to improve the whole area. He said: ‘The precinct is starting to look rundown.’
‘We do have a huge number of charity shops there at the moment – five in total.
‘The problem is that the shops left are branded stores – local shops are disappearing, so we end up with nail bars and charity shops,’ he added.
However, not everyone agreed with him.
‘I am disappointed with so many people claiming that Portchester precinct is dying,’ said John Hancock, owner of Petfayre.
‘I have just celebrated 25 years of trading in the precinct and other non-branded stores such as The Boulangerie, The Car Cabin, Homewise Hardware and Carpet Gallery have done between 30-35.
‘We are not dying, but we have suffered over the years from outside market pressures. The building of large supermarkets have eroded the footfall through the precinct over the years, but each of us has evolved and got through.’
Mr Hancock added: ‘Yes, there are charity shops, but that’s better than empty units – it helps give customers a reason to visit.’
Shaun Cunningham, from Shearwater Avenue, Fareham, said: ‘It really annoys me when I hear negative comments about the amount of charity shops in Portchester precinct. What is wrong with charity shops?
‘They serve a need and play a role in people’s lives, they create traffic for other outlets within the precinct.
‘Yes, Portchester precinct faces challenges, but let us not overstate them and it is certainly not dead.’
Fareham Borough Council will be looking into the regeneration of Portchester in working groups, with the first meeting today.