Local retailers have warned that if residents of Chorleywood and surrounding villages don’t support them to a greater degree, there will be no shops at all (Chorleywood Magazine, May 2017). In our June issue we had two positive responses from businesses.
The discussion continues
Val Kleanthous writes…
The writing was on the wall in the 1980s
I opened my law practice on the South Road /Lower Road junction in 84 and in 1989 was refused planning permission to extend as Chorleywood District Plan encouraged residential and discouraged commercial development. Rickmansworth was the designated commercial centre. I had to close the practice, leaving a developer to build the two small houses on the site.
The points I raised then are as relevant now:
- To divide the two ends of any shopping street by houses is bad for shopkeepers and off-putting for customers.
- Shops will struggle to survive without commercial businesses and professional services – office workers generate lunch hour business and bring clients into a village with no passing trade.
- Shops need to offer relevant products required on a daily basis.
- Parking alone is not a reason for the decline in business.
Residents and shopkeepers should lobby Councillors to allow for more centrally located office premises in the Village Centre.
CHORLEYWOOD CLOSED FOR BUSINESS
Following our piece last month Chorleywood Closed for business which highlighted the recent drop in footfall and possible outcomes we received some responses
Adrian Buck, Manager of the Co-op in Lower Road has informed us that the company has recognised the need to increase the range selection on the shelves and speed up the shopping process. There are plans in the pipeline to upgrade the store to make room for an extra aisle, a wider stock of fresh produce as well as introduce some self service tills. The major £1million refit will be along the lines of the Co-op Mid Counties flagship store in Chipping Norton and should happen this year.
Tracie Ness of Number One Boutique’s feedback was positive too She writes
“I have been running Number One Boutique in Main Parade for nearly 5 years and if it wasn’t busy I would not have survived!
I find Chorleywood families very supportive of the local small business and feel they do all they can to support our high street. My shop is along a little rat run – Andrew Fleming Florist, Morgan’s Deli and Wonderlab, and we have a similar client base. We are very active with our social media & advertising to try to create a reason for customers to come into Chorleywood and we find it works. There is always plenty of parking outside the shop but it’s about timings!
Chorleywood – Closed for Business
If you think the photo on this page is a joke read on. The sign may be mocked up but the possibility is very real. Local retailers warn that if residents of Chorleywood and surrounding villages don’t support them to a greater degree, there will be no shops at all. And this could actually happen in the next five years.
Footfall has dropped dramatically in Chorleywood shops recently. Some are blaming it on the closure of Nat West bank forcing locals to pay in cash and cheques in Ricky or Amersham branches and doing a bit of shopping while they are at it (you can pay in both for most banks into the Post Office although it takes a while to reach your account).
Others are convinced that the lack of brand choice in the Co-op compared to Budgens, plus the increased likelihood of till queues has resulted in people shopping more at the supermarket giants. Then there’s the parking which seems to be getting worse. No doubt more women working to meet the crazy property prices on our patch and the increase in online shopping has contributed too. Whatever the reasons, the bottom line is if it doesn’t change we will have no village centre.
Action is vital. Chorleywood Magazine in conjunction with Chorleywood Residents’ Association will be distributing a survey to establish reasons why people are using our shops less. Look out for it and please fill it in. It’s down to every one of us and it’s the usual story, use it or lose it.