Special report: banbury town centre

Panoramic view of Banbury Market Place NNL-140520-150243001
Panoramic view of Banbury Market Place NNL-140520-150243001

Consultees representing the firm behind Banbury’s Castle Quay shopping centre have outlined a vision to regenerate Banbury town centre, forming a new partnership between the shopping centre and retailers in Banbury’s Old Town.

The Banbury Town Centre Retail Review was prepared by Paul Davison and Jack Davison of Banbury-based Proteus PR for Castle Quay owners Scottish Widows Investment Partnership.

They prepared the report after consulting 20-30 town retailers, business and the Old Town Association and are now calling for more Banbury traders and businesses to contribute their ideas.

The report’s creators have outlined key strategies to help rejuvenate Banbury which they believe is essential for the soon-to-be extended Castle Quay centre to thrive.

The report states: ‘The proposed development of Castle Quay has the potential to help increase the number of visitors to the town.

However if this is not linked effectively to the rest of the town we could simply end up with a honey pot by the canal while the rest of the town suffers from decreasing footfall as shoppers and visitors are attracted away from the traditional shopping areas such as Parsons Street and Horsefair.’

Paul Davison explained: “The important thing for us is that it’s actually in Castle Quay’s interests for the whole town to be vibrant and successful.

“We know what we’re going to create with the Castle Quay extension, it will bring people into town. But if the rest of the town is thriving it will bring even more people in.

“We need to make sure we’re not centring things on one hot-spot. We need to use that hot-spot to create success across the whole town centre.”

Proteus began drafting the report after holding consultations with retailers and businesses in July and November last year, at which they outlined initial plans for the Castle Quay 2 extension which will rejuvenate the canal front with bars, restaurants, a cinema and supermarket.

Since then the refusal of the General Foods Sports & Social Club to accept SWIPs offer to move its premises to a new purpose-built site thwarted the plans for an iconic canopy bridging the canal, so revised plans preserving the GF Club are expected to be submitted to Cherwell District Council this month .

Key ideas outlined in the report include better integration between Castle Quay and the rest of the town, improved signage, websites and digital apps to promote the town, improvements to public transport, a reduction in parking costs and greater focus on promoting historic sites.

Mr Davison added: “We think we’ve got a framework there with some ideas and we now want to see if anybody else has got ideas that we haven’t found and see if businesses support what we’re saying.”

Once retailers’ comments have been collated Proteus will take the report to Banbury Town and Cherwell District Council’s to seek their support before seeking public support for the campaign.

Asked why public consultation was not carried out first Mr Davison said: “We want to start a dialogue with both councils to see how we can deliver what we have got there, then we will start to give what we can offer to the public and start a campaign to get the residents of Banbury to actually visit the town more.”

Asked how far the report is a genuine attempt to revitalise the town rather than create positive PR for Castle Quay 2, Barry Whitehouse, chairman of Banbury’s Old Town Association – who was consulted on the report – said: “Whatever their motives, it’s good they’re doing something to highlight what potential problems there are when the Castle Quay extension happens.

“Feeback from The Old Town Association seems positive so far, you just have to hope at the end of the day that things are acted upon. It’s up to us to help make it happen.

“I’m all for breaking down the barriers.”

Mr Whitehouse said he 
believes public consultation is necessary to make the report representative but said it is important to consult retailers.

Jon McCarthy for LXB , the company behind the upcoming Banbury Gatweay out -of-town shopping centre next to the M40, said he welcomed any attempt to promote the town centre and Gateway will be linked to it by a regular bus service. But he added it was not relevant for LXB to involve itself in the report process as Gateway is a ‘very different offer.’

Retailers and businesses who wish to register their support for the report or contribute their ideas should email jack.davison@proteuspr.co.uk or call 01295 279628.