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Gloucestershire Business News

VIDEO: Stroud market battles against the big boys

In our third and final look at 'Repurposing the High Street', Punchline editor Mark Owen spent time with planning consultant David Jones, managing director of Evans Jones, at Five Valleys Market in Stroud.

Stroud was recently crowned the Sunday Times' best place to live in the UK and over the past two years the Five Valleys Shopping Centre has undergone a major transformation, creating a brand new retail and leisure destination in the heart of the town and attracting an exciting host of national and independent businesses catering for fashion, health and beauty, food and evening a cinema and bowling alley.

Five Valleys Market houses 20 indoor market stalls with a great line-up of food and drink producers. The style, quality and layout has been inspired by London's award winning Borough Market.

Mr Jones' first reaction was: "What a brilliant place. What an excellent facility for Stroud. There's a great range of different foods and different drinking establishments, everything that you could want but surrounded by more permanent shops.

"We need to keep people coming to the high street. For every pound spent on facilities like this in local stores and on local produce has a 60 per cent benefit for the high street and the local community.

"It's so important to the high street for people to buy local. If we all spent a pound locally across the country it would add £12 million to the economy.

"As a local market town Stroud has to compete head-to-head with Cheltenham, Bath and Bristol which have a lot of big retail elements pulling people away."

However, with the likes of artisan bakers and great butchers, Mr Jones said "What's not to like?"

Twenty years ago, Stroud started a 'living over the shop' (LOTS) initiative which at the time was spearheaded by Stroud District Council and housing associations. This innovative scheme encouraged owners of shops in the town to restore the upper floors for residential use.

"Stroud has been very far-sighted," added Mr Jones. "This was before we even realised that the high street had issues. Stroud saw that it could do something to drive footfall to the high street and that worked really well and that's something we need to replicate elsewhere in different towns and cities."

Mr Jones highlighted Sandersons boutique store in Five Valleys shopping centre as being a 'key tenant' and a 'real destination retailer' in its own right

.He added: "If you look at this in the round, we've got a great market with food, retails and a superb anchor store, Sandersons, pulling people in. This is what we need to replicate and help drive people back to the high street, reinvigorate it and rejuvenate it."

To contact Evans Jones, call 01242 522822 email cheltenham@evansjones.co.uk  or visit www.evansjones.co.uk

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