‘Interesting’ independent shops hope to attract more customers with new arch

Orchard Meadows arch has been raised above Meadow Street. Picture of Paul Batts beneath arch.

Orchard Meadows arch has been raised above Meadow Street. Picture of Paul Batts beneath arch. - Credit: Archant

More shoppers will visit one of Weston-super-Mare’s independent business quarters after the area was given the ‘recognition it deserves’, according to a town centre boss.

After ‘two years of hard work’ an arch was installed above Meadow Street this week, welcoming shoppers to Orchard Meadows which is home to the town’s ‘interesting’ businesses, according to Weston Business Improvement District (BID) chairman Paul Batts.

Thousands of pounds have been spent on the arch by the BID and Weston Town Council in a bid to attract footfall from Big Lamp Corner to the small shops of Orchard Street, Orchard Place and Meadow Street.

And Mr Batts, owner of Outdoors & Active in Meadow Street, believes traders will benefit from the growing brand of Orchard Meadows.

He said: “It’s there at last and we have some recognition of the area. As people walk across Big Lamp Corner, people will see Orchard Meadows is defined as a shopping area, rather than a street which heads out of town.

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“There is a lot of history in these areas, so it’s nice to see some life in them. They were busy in the past and it’s taken a long time to get some new businesses in and it deserves its recognition as an independent area which is much more interesting than the usual players on the High Street.”

Mr Batts told the Mercury ‘in an ideal world’ an arch would be installed at all entrance points to Orchard Meadows, with Orchard Street next on the list as North Somerset Council plans to make neighbouring Alexandra Parade a bus interchange and a ‘drop off point’.

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And the BID chairman believes as national retailers turn their back on high streets, independent businesses must come to the fore.

He said: “It’s really important Orchard Meadows is a brand and a destination for shoppers. Every week we’re hearing High Street companies are struggling, so independent areas like Grove Village and Orchard Meadows are going to be important areas.

“The big guys are being hit with expensive rates in the High Street and more and more people are pulling out so you end up seeing the same things in every town.

“We’ll always have our fantastic seafront pulling people in, but we want to draw people to Orchard Meadows and Grove Village because that is where our specialist independents are.”

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