'No quick fix' for Dolphin Square as two businesses shut down increasing vacant units to five

PUBLISHED: 07:38 31 July 2019 | UPDATED: 07:41 31 July 2019

Dolphin Square.    

Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Dolphin Square. Picture: MARK ATHERTON

Archant

Councillors admit there is no 'quick fix' for Weston town centre's woes after the 'disappointing' exits of two businesses from Dolphin Square.

Luda bingo and 7Bone Burger Co have shut up shop for good this month, as businesses continue to struggle to make ends meet.

The £45million redevelopment of Dolphin Square - which is home to a cinema, gym, climbing centre and a selection of national chain restaurants - was viewed a pivotal part of the regeneration of Weston when it opened in 2017.

But with two occupiers failing to last two years, questions have been asked whether it has 'been managed as well as it should have'.

McLaren Life, the manager of the building, has seen the number of vacant units swell to five - three of which have never been occupied since the development was completed in 2017.

Mark Canniford, North Somerset Council's executive member for business, said: "This is disappointing news, but not totally surprising as Dolphin Square is not immune to challenges facing all town centres.

"We want to see Weston bustling with activity and are continuing to drive forward the regeneration of the town centre.

"We need to increase footfall and we are keen, with Weston Town Council and Weston Business Improvement District (BID), to develop ways to do this."

Town centre traders have endured several turbulent years which have seen a slew of businesses leave the High Street, including Marks & Spencer in April, and Dolphin Square appears to be facing the same issues.

The council's deputy leader, Mike Bell, believes 7Bone fell victim to a 'crowded' food market.

He added: "They've given it a try and it hasn't worked. Luda seemed to struggle from the off.

"We need to see a lot more events and activities in town to get visitors and shoppers in. But this isn't a quick fix."

Paul Batts, chairman of the BID, believes rent costs at Dolphin Square are 'expensive'.

He said: "As you walk up to that end of the High Street, you are going to be confronted by two closed units.

"There needs to be serious realigning of rental if they want people in these units.

"Dolphin Square was supposed to stimulate the re-growth of Weston. It is disappointing McLaren has never filled the other units. It doesn't seem to have been managed as well as it should have."

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