A chosen anchor retailer - B&M Bargains - soon plans to move into the near-vacant Arcade shopping centre in Aldershot
A new tenant is at last set to arrive at Aldershot’s Arcade shopping centre, as B&M Bargains was named the chosen anchor retailer.
B&M, which sells a variety of products from home and living to clothes and footwear, and has more than 350 stores in the UK, has agreed terms with centre owners Dunedin Property and is said to be keen to move in as soon as possible.
The arrival of the retailer comes after permission was granted to allow a single retail unit to be created within the boarded up area of the centre.
A planning application to turn the section comprising 10 of the 21 units in The Arcade, as well as offices and an access lobby, into one large space was set approved by members of Rushmoor Borough Coun-cil’s development control committee at a meeting on December 4.
The Arcade contains few surviving businesses on the Victoria Road side, and Dunedin has long been searching for a key retailer to breathe life back into the centre by increasing customers and attracting additional retailers.
Plans submitted to the council states that B&M is the prospective occupier of the new unit, which is expected to feature a large and dramatic entrance from Wellington Street.
“This is a national retailer, which is very likely to attract considerable footfall to this area and add to the retail mix”, claimed the report.
“The key change is to deliver an anchor, larger-format occupier and to more generally concentrate and enhance the existing commercial offer of The Arcade and reduce the extent of vacancies in this part of the town centre.”
A compromise has also been reached to allow Jenny’s Café, located at the Wellington Street entrance, to remain.
John Thorne, the borough council’s case officer for The Arcade, said: “The applicant has in this case clearly got an under-used retail space and the difference between empty shops and filled shops is significant for them.”
A previous planning application to create a Wetherspoon pub and Poundland shop was refused in October last year after councillors decided it would have reduced visibility of the remaining retailers, and had a negative impact on the diversity and accessibility of the town centre due to the loss of a key pedestrian walkway.
This decision was overturned on appeal this May, however Wetherspoon had already pulled out of the proposal a month earlier to complete the purchase of the Queen Hotel in High Street, instead.
It left The Arcade with few filled units, but the arrival of B&M is seen by Dunedin as a successful conclusion to the saga.
The reduction in vacant floorspace, which the developer admitted had ‘characterised The Arcade for some time’, would address the damaging effect the empty units have on the perception of the town centre.