Banbury town centre on verge of 'mini renaissance' with new businesses opening and others expanding
The Banbury Guardian recently spoke with a group of businesses owners from the town centre along with a representative of the Banbury Business Improvement District (BID). The group included Barry Whitehouse, owner of the Banbury art supplies shop, The Artery, Mark Allitt, owner of Revival MK2 clothing store, and Nate Wilde, a town host for Banbury BID.
The conversation with the group revealed how new businesses are opening and others are expanding in the town centre even in the midst of an ongoing pandemic and economic depression.
Banbury comics business, Collectors Assemble, relocated last month reopening in a larger two-storey location in the town centre. The store moved from their old location in Parson's Street to just around the corner in Church Lane.
Sheila's Sweets is expanding into a second location opposite its current location in Parson's Street.
The currently empty DEFY Street Botique shop in Parson's Street will soon be another food venue in town.
The old Whistling Kettle location on the Market Square will soon become a new Indian restaurant.
The former Little Amsterdam restaurant in North Bar Street will soon be reopening as a Mexican street food restaurant and takeaway called Taquero Banbury.
Michael Jones Jewellers on the High Street also recently expanded.
Barry, who is also the chair of the Old Town Association, said: "We've got a lot of positives going on in the town.
"I think for a lot of businesses it's a scary, but exciting time. We're almost starting afresh. Maybe it's a good chance to highlight what have got here.
"Even now during a pandemic we've got businesses opening. I think we're on the verge of a mini renaissance."
A spokesperson for Cherwell District Council also confirmed the Bolton Road car park near the town center will soon become a 'pay by exit' car park.
Pay by exit parking allows for customer flexibility when parking as people will not have to return at a specific time. They will pay only for the time they use.
A Cherwell District Council Spokesperson said: "CDC already has a 'pay on exit' system up and running at the Cattle Market car park in Bicester and that’s been successful so CDC wants to replicate that in Banbury to provide a better parking experience.
Mark Allitt, owner of the Revival MK2 clothing store on Parson's Street, said: "We're a good town to live in. I've lived here all my life. Everyone tries to help each other.
"It's still safe to come out into the town centre to shop. It's safe to come out for a pint and a meal too.
"I think we've got to be creative over the next few months.
"It's obviously a terrible thing we're living through right now, and you want to be vigilant but we also want people to stay positive."
Nate Wilde, a town host with Banbury BID, said the BID is also in the early stages of its Empty Units Project.
He said: "We've evaluated units in town as part of the project, and we're repairing empty units in town."
First on the list of empty units in the town centre is the old Moss Bros building on the High Street in town. The repairing, repainting and redoing the front of the High Street location started last weekend.
Nate added: "It's been empty for ages so it'd be good to fire some life back into it. This is the first building in the project, We're evaluating others."