OPC has been asked what we can do to keep McColls on our High Street.
Members of the OPC team have expressed how sad we are about this news. The Council have for some time raised concern with regards the health of our High Street, in terms of the loss of our banks, Little Play Town and shrinking retail offering. We still have several great businesses and we have worked to support our shops as we have written about in our newsletters.
We would encourage all of our residents to support our local businesses and OPC has actively promoted Odiham and our shops with visitor leaflets, maps and events. We have worked with the District Council to revise the parking restrictions. We fought against the closure of our banks and are investing to ensure that amenities such as our High Street Toilets remain and are enhanced. However there is little we can do in the case of a particular retailer who has sadly chosen to close a branch.
Key is footfall. Our Neighbourhood Plan identifies the need for a mix of shops to provide an attractive retail mix, but it can’t force shops to remain or indeed start up new ventures. Sadly OPC has no control over rates or rent and as we have seen, shops like the old Co-op have remained empty for some time (although we have tried to make the building more attractive thought the use of their windows).
The Council has however explored ways we can attract footfall. The visitor information, and event support has been covered above. Many Cllrs supported the opportunity to bring a managed Deer Park to Odiham because of the attractive Amenity it would create, which that they believed would encourage visitors and make Odiham more of a destination. As well the additional parking it would provide. Something that retailers themselves told us was critical.
The Neighbourhood Plan Monitoring report recently published outlines this challenge and how a focus on the High Street should be a priority for the next Council. It outlines some suggestions, which we hope will be considered.