Shop relocates amidst fears lower High Street is being left behind
NOT enough is being done to help stores in part of Cheltenham's shopping centre, a trader has claimed.
Brian Crosby, who owns West End Framing and Art, is planning to move from his current location in lower High Street into an empty unit in Montpellier next month.
The move, he claimed, was partly down to frustration at a failure by the council to regenerate the lower High Street, which he claims is being "left behind" other parts of town.
Mr Crosby, who has been an outspoken cheerleader for traders in the area – known as Cheltenham's West End– said it was a business decision to move his picture framing and art company to a new home in the town.
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"The truth is I haven't been able to get many art sales for some time," he said.
"I feel, despite efforts to improve the lower High Street, not enough is being done.
"The entrance into town from that direction is appalling and I just don't see it improving any time soon.
"I don't want to denigrate the lower High Street because I've had eight good years there.
"But I am not getting the type of customers who are interested in buying art.
"Despite many efforts, it is still seen by many people as the unfashionable part of town."
With trade failing to take off at his other store in Gloucester, he said he had decided to bring his company together under one roof in Montpellier.
The move will not entail any job losses.
Mr Crosby, himself an accomplished artist, added that he hoped to retain his loyal customers after the move.
The new store, entitled Brian Crosby Fine Art Fine Frames, is expected to open in October.
Traders in Montpellier said they were delighted one of the empty units was set to be filled. Vacant sites include the former Sketchley's dry cleaners, which closed last month and the old baby shop Pretty Special.
Jeremy Williamson, managing director for the Cheltenham Development Taskforce – the organisation responsible for the long-term regeneration of the town – insisted the future of the lower High Street was bright.
"A decision to relocate is clearly a business decision but I am pleased to hear that Mr Crosby has sufficient faith in Cheltenham to retain his business within the town," he said.
"The lower High Street is one of the central areas for the task force remit and focus has been to improve the link between the lower end of town and the main High Street.
"Key to this has been The Brewery development which has now secured planning permission.
"The next major project will be the road network changes and improved signage in areas such as the Lower High Street and Montpellier."