09:00AM, Friday 03 May 2019
Debenhams has become the latest major retailer to announce it is leaving Slough, but the council said plans are in place to keep the town ‘vibrant and alive’.
The department chain’s Slough branch is one of 22 stores expected to close next year as part of its efforts to secure its financial future.
The decision follows the likes of Marks & Spencer and Topshop, who have both closed their High Street stores in recent years.
Slough Borough Council said it was sad to hear the news but added that the problems affecting retail were being experienced nationwide.
A spokeswoman for the council said: “Unfortunately, Slough High Street is not alone in being affected by consumer trends and the closure of major retailers.”
“However, the landlords of their unit have confirmed they will continue to operate until 2020 by which time we expect the private owners of the shopping centres to have announced their comprehensive, multi-million pound regeneration and investment plans.”
The Queensmere Observatory shopping centre was sold by Criterion Capital to the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority in November 2016 but plans are yet to materialise on its future.
The spokeswoman added: “In the interim, the council is keeping the town vibrant and alive with attractions and a programme of events and activities including arts with HOMESlough.”
Slough has been selected as one of five towns to trial the Government’s Open Doors scheme, which aims to open up empty shops for the benefit of the community.
Open Doors will be located in Unit 2 of the Queensmere Shopping Centre from July onwards.
Community groups are being invited to put forward ideas which could make positive use of empty retail space.
Successful applicants will be offered a unit free of charge for up to 12 months.
Josie Wragg, chief exe-cutive of Slough Borough Council, said: “We are really excited that Slough has been chosen to trial this project, and are looking forward to seeing all the innovative ideas that come forward from community groups in how they propose to use the space.”
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