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Council claims Slough town centre can stay 'vibrant and alive' despite Debenhams departure

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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  • SpeakasIfind

    13:01, 08 May 2019

    Is this a joke? The entire High Street has become a ghost town. The big names have left, they're not leaving, they've already gone. I get the feeling that SBC do not have a plan on how to bring back the big names. I don't want to go to the shopping centre to look at art, I want to go to the shopping centre to shop! I appreciate shopping trends are changing, yet somehow Reading, Windsor, Bracknell all seem to manage to retain the big brands - why is Slough so different? Can someone apply some pressure on the new Queensmere landlords? Whilst we're on the subject - when is the Tesco bridge being pulled down? Its become a disgusting eyesore that is not being maintained by Tescos or the SBC.

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  • Honestjim

    00:12, 05 May 2019

    It’s too late for slough now, Labour have destroyed any hope of the high street being reborn. Why, because The Council have done nothing for over 12 years. Residents are right to be angry with James Swindlehurst and Roger I make stuff up Davies who have the let the entire town down by mismanaging the investment. Mind you some people have just voted for another four years of Mr Swindlehurst, so reap what you sow. Bracknell, Maidenhead, Reading, High Wycombe, Taplow - all new shopping centres so why an earth do you need Slough now? Perhaps it’s plan to just create a town of one bed flats and no heart, no cultural centre apart from a half baked bus centre, a cycle scheme that nobody uses, adult gyms nobody wanted, a £44m head office that’s too big, a library with no parking etc etc etc . The council are the shambles and Roger Davies et al are to blame.

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  • Stranger

    23:11, 04 May 2019

    The council is a huge monolith stuffed full of unproductive people taking a hefty paycheck out of public funds for doing, essentially, nothing but write pointless surveys and file useless reports. These people have no idea about the business world - their heads are full of self-serving ideology, micromanaging people's activity, micromanaging what doesn't need to be managed and generally breaking what was once working. Yet they are, I admit, masters of redirecting and pocketing "development" funds - essentially taking a backhander to allow someone to dig a hole and then someone else to fill it up (e.g. the Centre on Farnham Road, the Library, Montem Leisure Centre, etc.) When every private business has shipped out, the council will be panicking. Nobody left to pay for its corrupt projects or to line the pockets of councillors in league with private sector development slush funds... Conditions have been made impossible for business by the imposition of ridiculous rates in the high street, the redirection of traffic and the closure of roads to (real) vehicles, all paid for by the council. All the while, while the high street died, they found the time to pay their mates a couple of million to erect a monument and then 2 weeks later take it down. By the time they come cap in hand to the business community with another useless survey, everyone will have adapted to the new reality and nobody will need to negotiate. High street dead? Well, another source of revenue closed to SBC.

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