High Street review hopes to boost business

ARBROATH’S town centre regeneration group is carrying out a review of the High Street in a bid to boost business in the town centre.

The review, which will look into the number of vacant units and the types of rent needed to take them over, comes as retailers are facing one of their busiest weekends of the year, with shoppers buying last-minute presents before Christmas.

In recent months there have been some signs of improvement on the High Street with a range of new shops opening and it is thought that the major fashion retailer Peacocks is poised to move into the Abbeygate Centre.

But there are still many premises on the street that are lying empty and now the regeneration group hopes to address this issue.

Councillor Donald Morrison, who is a member of the regeneration group, says despite the review taking longer than first thought, all efforts are being made to establish exactly who owns the empty units to, in turn, try and attract more investment.

He told the Herald: “The review of the High Street is still an ongoing process but it has been pleasing to see a number of new shops open since it began.

“What we have to do now is keep trying to attract and encourage more businesses and retailers into the town again.

“We are looking at a number of suggestions and I agree that large supermarkets can make it difficult to attract some retailers, but maybe Arbroath should concentrate on encouraging niche specialist shops as supermarkets will never be able to sell every single thing.

“So it is not all doom and gloom for the High Street but we still need to tackle the doom and gloom that is out there.”

Since the start of the year, many retailers have shut up shop in the High Street, as the recession started to bite.

Other options to try and kickstart trade in the High Street include an overhaul of the town centre’s one-way system which is more than 30 years old, and the possibility of making Brothock Bridge a two-way system again.

Council officers are said to be investigating several changes to the system which it is hoped will make it easier for traffic to be directed towards the High Street.

These strategies, together with the regeneration group’s review, it is hoped will bring optimism to the High Street in 2011.

And Arbroath Community Council chair Pat Millar believes the town should look positively towards the future.

She added: “There is an element of optimism out there after a number of new shops have opened.

“I know it is sometimes hard to stay positive about the economy in these hard times but we have to look on the bright side and talk up Arbroath.”