Bristol news Keynsham high street- what does the future hold? MetiNews.Com
MetiNews.Com - A £1.1m cash boost may offer a glimmer of hope to restore its identity and heritage - despite mixed opinions
Breaking News ! It's fair to say Keynsham High Street has become a shadow of its former self but is on the verge of a downward spiral? What was once a bustling retail district with heaps of crowds and traffic, now occupies a few dozen people scurrying along the pavement - and only mildly tempted to walk in the now pedestrianised road out of fear of colliding with a cyclist. To think that Bath & North East Somerset Council (B&NES) had begun rolling out a major Regeneration Schemes to enhance Keynsham High Street, a casual stroll in the middle of a now barricaded road would prove otherwise. In February this year the B&NES announced that over the next four years, Keynsham Town Centre will benefit from new investments as a way of securing “its position as a successful and independent economic centre”. This investment would not only help to improve the town but according to the council, “help the High Street successfully meet the challenges high streets are now facing”. But it’s blatantly clear that after five months of lockdown, the covid-19 pandemic has caused a major setback in the council’s initiatives and traders are now experiencing up to 20 per cent decrease in their footfall. Looking for today's top stories in one place? Sign up for our newsletter here Businesses say closing Keynsham High Street to traffic has hit trade by up to 20 per cent (Image: John Myers) “The road closure has caused me to lose at least 30% business intake,” said Terry Hutchings, owner of Starzeck’s Shoe Repair shop. “It has impacted my business quite a lot - the volume of work is not coming in anymore.” The repair shop which has been operating for over 40 years, occupies a prime spot in the middle of the high street where business once boomed. The 56 year-old said: “I think the High Street is fine but it's just the traffic which has reduced the number of people deciding to come here - Keynsham High Street is definitely on a downhill spiral.” Mr Hutchings said neighbouring businesses have also seen a dramatic reduction in their takings. Miss Yeates said two years ago she would never have considered moving to the other end of the street. (Image: John Myers) Bristol-born tattoo artist Kelly Yeates said before opening her business six years ago, she believed Keynsham high street had great potential and value. But since the council has made the street one-way and pedestrian friendly, the level of interest from passersby has fallen including the free advertising from queuing vehicles she once had at the junction outside of her shop. The Savannah Studio owner said: “The council has had the intention to close the street for a long period of time and covid restrictions have been a good excuse to activate it.” She said her income has fallen by a further 25 per cent after being told by the council to reduce customer numbers, having previously made the decision to cut her staff’s client volume. Miss Yates once believed Keynsham high street had great potential and value. (Image: John Myers) The 42 year-old said unlike other businesses in the area, her service relies on a booking system so her footfall is a lot less impacted compared to nearby traders. Miss Yeates said she has considered moving her business closer to temple street now that it's being regenerated. She said: “There may be greater potential further down the High Street in the near future as interest and value of properties in the area has increased quite dramatically in the last four to five years. Miss Yeates said two years ago she would never have considered moving to the other end of the street. “With this area being pedestrianised, and there being gentrified with new flats and shops going in - it would certainly be of interest to me.” Miss Yeates said people do not often recognise that Temple Street is an extension of the High Street and believes that if nothing changes where she currently operates, she may have no other choice but to relocate her business. (Image: John Myers) In May 2017, B&NES Council introduced the One Way Trial transport system to Keynsham High Street. And less than a year later, launched Business Economic Impact survey as part of a wider consultation to review the one-way system. Findings from the 2018 economic survey report showed that out of 106 businesses that responded, 42 per cent of felt the One Way Trial had had a negative effect on business takings and 48% felt that the trial had caused a negative effect on their average monthly footfall into their premises. The Overall findings indicated that there was nearly a 50-50 per cent split between businesses who felt the High Street’s One Way Trial made no difference to its takings and footfall, while others felt it massively disrupted their businesses. Owner Brad Sellars said: "We have never been so busy." (Image: John Myers) Trojan Blinds showroom manager Mrs Alison Hobbs said she feels that Keynsham is on the verge of being a struggling town. “I am used to seeing the High Street being very busy but it's not just covid that is impacting the high street. “The car parking issues and the changes made to the High Street has impacted the flow of traffic - which causes congestion, and it just prevents people from even bothering to come into Keynsham at all.” Like the Savannah Studio shop, Trojan Blinds is a destination shop where-by people choose to come there but instead of a reduced footfall, she said the business has been booming. Owner Brad Sellars and Showroom manger Mrs Alison Hobbs (Image: John Myers) Owner Brad Sellars agrees and said: "We have never been so busy." Mrs Hobbs said: “In terms of customers and orders it has had a very positive effect in that a lot of local people are supporting our business perhaps more than they normally would.
. The 47 year-old said having reopened since the lockdown business has been good. She said: “Covid does not affect us directly but we have other impacts in terms of our manufacturers. “In terms of the High Street closure, we haven't felt the effects that other retailers we know have felt.” “I think our business is unique in that people choose to come to us, they don't come to Keynsham and don't necessarily just wonder in - so for that reason we’ve survived quite well.
Major closing down sale at Peacocks in Keynsham
(Image: John Myers)
News of another major clothing shop closing permanently on Keynsham High Street has left many devastated. Peacocks is now advertising its major closing down sales after the The Edinburgh Woollen Mill Group recently filed for administration. Paul and Jackie Platt often visit Keynsham High Street because of its accessibility and parking are saddened by the closure. Mrs Platt said peacock closing down will further reduce retail shops in the area and if it wasn't for covid it would still be open. She said: “Next closed down and now this one, there’s nothing left.”
Mr Paul Platt and Mrs Jackie Platt about to go inside Peacocks for what could be the very last time
(Image: John Myers)
Mr Platt added: “The only reason I shop here is if I want to pick up a casual shirt. It is not a top of the range shop but it's the only shop in Keynsham.” Despite the High Street being packed with an eclectic selection of businesses, according to Mrs Platt its over populated with cafes. She said: “I think this area would benefit from less of these shops.” Though both agreed the High Street is an ideal place they felt there is nothing to bring new people into the area. Mr Platt said: “It probably has something to do with the business rates and nobody wants to take over the shops because the rates are so high and they're not going to make any money.” Mrs Platt said the through traffic - pre-covid restrictions, never bothered her. "When the road was open it was so easy to cross the road, it was busy but it was still steady enough to go shopping. “I can’t understand why they stopped the traffic, because I don't think it has made any difference to the footfall at all," She said.
Street musician 'Supay' started playing traditional Inca music on Keynsham High street two weeks. The 65 year-old said he enjoys entertaining visitors and local residents and even has a a crowd favourite.
(Image: John Myers)
Bristol Live reached out to Bath & North East Somerset Council to find out its development plans for Keynsham and whether the High Street is on a downward spiral. Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, said: “Last month we formally accepted a £1.1m High Streets Heritage Action Zones grant from Historic England to refresh Keynsham High Street and there has also been funding of £40,000 committed by Keynsham Town Council. "This will enable a significant programme of public realm works including improvements to shop fronts, development of a cultural programme, footpath widening, new cycling and bus stop facilities and new seating. "The scheme will enhance the identity of the High Street and inject new life into the town, and a dedicated project manager is being recruited at present.
Keynsham High Street - what does the future hold?
(Image: John Myers)
“This is especially important now businesses are in the recovery phase following Covid-19 and will ensure Keynsham High Street remains the anchor of the local community." Mr Crossley the Riverside View apartments have recorded high sales volume which brings additional footfall to the high street though retail vacancy rates remain low. Keysham Town Council chairman Any Wait Said: “I would say that Keynsham High Street is coping better than some with trading since lockdown. “Clearly, all high streets are struggling but Keynsham is a town with a strong community and we value our High Street.” Though some critics believe the High Street has lost its value, others remain optimistic that Keynsham town centre can be future proofed. And with its £1.1m cash boost from Historic England, there is a glimmer of hope that the High Street’s identity and heritage could be restored.
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