WATERLOOVILLE town centre is at crisis point – and the town’s MP has said something must be done to rejuvenate it.
But George Hollingbery has admitted he faces a monumental battle to help revitalise the struggling high street, saying he has tried everything.
His candid comments come as there are more than a dozen empty shops in the town and footfall continues to be low, even on weekends.
While the retail parks are busy, the old town centre is a shadow of its former self.
Mr Hollingbery told The News: ‘We have got to do something about the town centre.
‘I have contacted everybody – Havant Borough Council, Hampshire County Council, developers such as Grainger.
‘There are so many owners in that part of the old A3.
‘Trying to do anything in a cohesive and coherent manner is unbelievably challenging.
‘It’s something everyone in politics locally would like to see – something done about Waterlooville town centre.
‘The question is where do you start? It’s hard enough to find out who owns the shops.’
Many of the shops, including the Wellington Way complex, are owned by absentee landlords in London.
‘There’s not anything that draws you to the area,’ added Mr Hollingbery.
‘There’s a hundred things that would need to change.’
But there is a glimmer of hope – and it could start from the ground up.
Over the last few weeks, businesses have been regularly meeting and coming forward with ideas.
A Waterlooville in Bloom event, a multicultural festival, a summer fete and a Christmas market are in the pipeline.
A range of events are also taking place in June for Waterlooville 200.
Jackie Buckley, who chairs the Waterlooville Community Forum events team, said: ‘If we don’t try to do something, it will just continue to go downhill.’
Waterlooville Councillor Paul Buckley said there are early stage proposals for a total revamp of the Wellington Way complex.
And, with up to 8,000 people set to move in to the new estates to the west of Waterlooville, he said investors may see the nearby town centre as more lucrative than before as the economy picks up.
He said: ‘There are signs of some green shoots and we may be able to push things forward.’