04:22PM, Friday 09 November 2018
Empty shops could be converted into community hubs under Government plans to reinvigorate UK high streets.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire MP is hoping his Open Doors project will tackle social problems linked to declining town centres, including crime, unemployment and loneliness.
The scheme aims to match landlords of empty shops with community groups who can use the properties on a temporary basis.
Mr Brokenshire said: “We need to be imaginative in tackling the social and economic challenges our communities face.
“That is why I’m delighted to be launching the new Open Doors project that will see empty shops being opened up to community groups offering services to the most vulnerable in our communities.”
More than a year after closing, the former Fenwick store in Windsor Yards continues to lie empty, while the old My Local store in Peascod Street remains unused.
Independent shops in Windsor town centre have also closed in recent months, with O’Driscolls Fishmongers in St Leonards Road shutting following the retirement of the owner.
Windsor, Ascot and Eton town manager Paul Roach said: “Windsor, like everybody, is facing challenges on the high street but we’re putting together our Christmas programme and we will continue to look to get as many people into the town as possible. I think there is a general feeling that people do want to support local independent shops in Windsor.
“Anything that can support footfall on the high street is good but we just need to look at the
detail at what the Government is proposing.”
One high street retailer which will not be leaving Windsor is Marks & Spencer.
Rumours spread on social media this week that the Peascod Street store had been identified for closure as part of nationwide cost-cutting measures.
But the company confirmed on Twitter on Tuesday that it had ‘no current plans’ to close its Windsor branch.
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