Dorchester’s latest plan for redeveloping the town centre would sound the death knell for independent retailers.
That is the claim of a leading independent, who says plans to move the market and create a new retail park on the Fairfield site would be disastrous.
“They said the market is the jewel in Dorchester’s crown – that is just a complete insult to us independents,”said Barry Simpson of Owen & Simpson kitchen shop in Antelope Walk.
“We’re here seven days a week, we pay rates, but they treat the market that’s here one day as the ‘jewel in the crown’. What does that say about the rest of us?
“At this end of the street you can see it already. In Antelope Walk they have trouble letting their places. I talk to people in the Walk – when their leases are up they are going. They can’t sell them because of what’s going on. When they look at the town they see the developments are on the car parks and that’s never a good thing for any town.”
Mr Simpson said the end result would result in yet more estate agents, betting shops, charity shops and cafés in the town.
“They don’t care about the rest of us,” he said. “If you move the non-food retail on to the Fairfield car park the eateries in town will suffer as well because people will just go over the road to Brewery Square.”
He said West Dorset District Council should focus on encouraging people to explore the town.
“People enjoy walking around the shops. Stick them in a shopping mall and they could be anywhere,” he added.
“What we’ve got in Dorchester is quite unique. We’ve still got a high street you can walk up and see a few different shops, you can go off the high street and see the local independent shops.”
Mr Simpson said Dorchester would just become a clone town.
“What you get with an independent buyer is he’s buying what the local people want, not what they want to sell nationally.
“He’s buying stuff that is being asked for and catering for the needs of his community because he knows it. You end up with a selection of goods that is the same anywhere.”
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