Town Team ‘will help bring in new shops to Gosport’

Picture: Pierandrea Guarnieri

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A GROUP leading the regeneration of Gosport High Street, says it is determined to bring in new shops to the town centre.

The Town Team – made up of local businesses, shop owners and residents – wants landlords to clean up empty shops to attract both visitors and new businesses.

And the team, which has now been officially elected, will help decide how a fund of £110,000 will be spent to rejuvenate the shopping centre.

Lin Wilson, owner of Solent Events and Leisure in Gosport, was elected to the team in the non-retail business category.

She said: ‘If the landlords want their shops filled they’ve got to be with us.

‘Our first step is to find out who all the landlords are, to contact them and talk to them to tell them what we’re hoping to do.

‘We don’t know how we’re going to get new business in, we’ve got ideas, but now we need to put them into action and see what will work.’

As previously reported in The News, the team has met before to discuss plans and has undertaken a survey of Gosport residents.

Mrs Wilson said: ‘We want to get businesses in that residents want.

‘From the meeting that we had and the results of the survey, we can see that the shoppers want a department store, which of course we all want.

‘But we’re not going to get anyone from the department store business in until we increase our footfall – it’s a big circle.’

The group will decide at its first meeting if it will employ a town centre and retail support officer, who will help the team.

Councillor Mark Hook is Tory leader of the council and has owned ELJ Furnishing 
on the High Street for 22 years.

He said: ‘It’s going to be an excellent way forward with a view to some of the proposals they’ll no doubt come up with.

‘One of the things is to attract new businesses into the town.

‘I would like to think that the landlords could play their part by offering 
rent-free periods and the council, through the town team, matching it through giving a period of no business rates.’