Saxmundham: ‘Town team’ formed to help improve High Street

Business chiefs got together to discuss the future of Saxmundham High Street.

Business chiefs got together to discuss the future of Saxmundham High Street. - Credit: Contributed

Business leaders have joined forces and come up with a raft of improvements to help boost footfall on their high street.

Retailers in Saxmundham have formed a “town team” in a bid to entice more visitors to the main shopping area and market square.

The aim is to take advantage of the interest generated by national chains such as Tesco and Waitrose and encourage shoppers to also use the independent retailers.

The new group is a sub-committee of the town’s business association and is spearheaded by The Store’s Sarah Pastor and Charlotte Ford, director of The Cotton Tree.

She said: “All the shopkeepers are really pulling together to get some vibrancy into the town centre.

“We want people who already go to Tesco and Waitsrose to come and use the High Street and take advantage of the amazing services that it has to offer.

“At our most recent meeting a number of initiatives were discussed for both the short and long term. People were very enthusiastic and we can’t wait to get going.”

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One of the projects that bosses hope to take forward is a new indoor farmers’ market. Other ideas include redecorating shop fronts and business premises and upgrading signage to improve links between the two supermarkets in Church Street and the town centre.

Discussions are also under way with local schools to fill empty units with students’ artwork, while it is also hoped that landlords may agree to “pop up” shops opening temporarily.

Members are also exploring the availability of alternative parking at the station, producing fresh promotional material and – with the help of the Heritage Coast Market Towns Initiative – starting a “benchmarking” exercise to identify Saxmundham’s strengths and weaknesses.

Mrs Pastor said the recession had been difficult for a lot of high streets but they hoped to entice people back.

“We want to try and do things to make shopping in Saxmundham a pleasant experience,” she said. “That way, when people do have more money in their pocket again, they will want to come back.”

Commenting on the presence of chain stores in the town, she added: “It’s great to have them here because it gives people another reason to visit. We see it very much as a collaboration. It’s not ‘us versus them’.

“What we need to do now is show that Saxmundham has a diverse and eclectic mix of retailers that offer a great service and a range of products that people would probably be quite surprised by.”

Anyone who would like more information, or would like to help, can contact Mrs Pastor on 01728 633005.