Business group bids for Mary Portas to overhaul Surbiton shopping street

Your Local Guardian: Could Mary Portas help Surbiton? Could Mary Portas help Surbiton?

A business group is bidding to have shopping guru Mary Portas overhaul the struggling high street.

Surbiton Town Team, comprised of local businesses, has put together a promotional video in the hope the Scottish star will bring her Midas touch to Surbiton’s Victoria Road.

The 99-second film, narrated by madcap fundraiser Robin Hutchinson, laments the decline of the town centre over a montage of empty shops and high street chains.

The self-styled Queen of Shops outlined her vision for the future of UK high streets in a report commissioned by David Cameron, in which she recommended ways to halt the rapid decline of town centres.

She has now been handed £1m to help flagging high streets. And the group hopes to get their hands on the cash in a bid to boost Surbiton.

The plans include a Surbiton shopper’s card which would offer discounts for shopping locally and contribute to funding for local charities.

Mr Hutchinson, the brains behind the Seething Festival, said the team wanted Surbiton to be a place where people can do more than shop.

He said: "We have seen with our community days out, such as the Seething Festival and Ski Sunday, that people are prepared to travel across London to come to Surbiton.

"We want creativity here, we want celebration and competition and we want our young people to take part in what we want to achieve because it will be an incredibly sad day if any of us have to answer the question: ‘Granddad what is a high street?’.”

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11:03am Wed 4 Apr 12

DB says...

I am a massive fan of what Robin has done for Surbiton, Kingston and the surrounding areas, and I'd love to see this work as well.

The problem is that Surbiton is a small town centre very much in the shadow of Kingston. I live in Surbiton and shop there as much as I can, but I when I only live just over half a mile from Kingston it is often tempting to go there instead and get more choice and a better chance of actually getting what I want.

The natural tenants for shops in Surbiton are estate agents, charity shops, restaurants etc. The rents are very high in the area compared to the footfall and this puts a lot of more traditional shops off coming here.

The loyalty card idea could help if well executed, but this has been tried a couple of years ago and faded away quite quickly.

The ideal situation would be for Surbiton high street to turn into something like Chiswick, dominated by independent retailers, supplemented by restaurants and chains. The problem is that Chiswick is a much wealthier area and shopping-wise is in the middle of nowhere being 4 miles from Richmond and 5 miles from Putney, neither of which are brilliant shopping centre in their own right. Surbiton sits under a mile away from one of the best shopping centres in the South East.

The other problem is that the Portas scheme is government backed, and I think they may come under a lot of critiscm for awarding part of the £1m to a 'wealthy and leafy' place in the commuter belt like Surbiton.
I am a massive fan of what Robin has done for Surbiton, Kingston and the surrounding areas, and I'd love to see this work as well. The problem is that Surbiton is a small town centre very much in the shadow of Kingston. I live in Surbiton and shop there as much as I can, but I when I only live just over half a mile from Kingston it is often tempting to go there instead and get more choice and a better chance of actually getting what I want. The natural tenants for shops in Surbiton are estate agents, charity shops, restaurants etc. The rents are very high in the area compared to the footfall and this puts a lot of more traditional shops off coming here. The loyalty card idea could help if well executed, but this has been tried a couple of years ago and faded away quite quickly. The ideal situation would be for Surbiton high street to turn into something like Chiswick, dominated by independent retailers, supplemented by restaurants and chains. The problem is that Chiswick is a much wealthier area and shopping-wise is in the middle of nowhere being 4 miles from Richmond and 5 miles from Putney, neither of which are brilliant shopping centre in their own right. Surbiton sits under a mile away from one of the best shopping centres in the South East. The other problem is that the Portas scheme is government backed, and I think they may come under a lot of critiscm for awarding part of the £1m to a 'wealthy and leafy' place in the commuter belt like Surbiton. DB
  • Score: 0

12:35pm Wed 4 Apr 12

DavidRandall says...

Good points DB. Many will share your concern, but the point is that there are 38,000 people in Surbiton who need places to interact as well as shop. The retail economy is important for high streets, but creating a Town Team is a more inclusive approach to town centre management that gets other stakeholders involved too, not just the retailers.

I want to see in Surbiton places for young people to go, business hubs, community information, space for creatives, places for retired people to socialise, intergenerational venues and entertainments, low cost rentals for start ups, etc. - it's not all about shopping!
Good points DB. Many will share your concern, but the point is that there are 38,000 people in Surbiton who need places to interact as well as shop. The retail economy is important for high streets, but creating a Town Team is a more inclusive approach to town centre management that gets other stakeholders involved too, not just the retailers. I want to see in Surbiton places for young people to go, business hubs, community information, space for creatives, places for retired people to socialise, intergenerational venues and entertainments, low cost rentals for start ups, etc. - it's not all about shopping! DavidRandall
  • Score: 0

12:48pm Wed 4 Apr 12

Rivermummy says...

Well said David! and just a small point - Chiswick High Road is less than 2 miles from one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe - Westfield- and runs straight on from King Street Hammersmith which is also well served with shops - so obviously their independent retailers are doing the trick - and Davids vision seems to be similar. Good luck Surbiton, Queen of the Suburbs!
Well said David! and just a small point - Chiswick High Road is less than 2 miles from one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe - Westfield- and runs straight on from King Street Hammersmith which is also well served with shops - so obviously their independent retailers are doing the trick - and Davids vision seems to be similar. Good luck Surbiton, Queen of the Suburbs! Rivermummy
  • Score: 0

4:21pm Wed 4 Apr 12

DB says...

DavidRandall wrote:
Good points DB. Many will share your concern, but the point is that there are 38,000 people in Surbiton who need places to interact as well as shop. The retail economy is important for high streets, but creating a Town Team is a more inclusive approach to town centre management that gets other stakeholders involved too, not just the retailers. I want to see in Surbiton places for young people to go, business hubs, community information, space for creatives, places for retired people to socialise, intergenerational venues and entertainments, low cost rentals for start ups, etc. - it's not all about shopping!
I totally agree with this.

The thing that seems to strangle everything is the rental value demanded by the commercial landlords being totally out of step with the footfall in Surbiton. That makes it hard enough for shops to become established here, let alone non-profit making entities such as you mention.

I have even heard that certain commercial landlords rather see their shops empty rather than tenanted at a reduced rent to preserve the capital value of the property!

This is what the government really need to address if they are going to create healthy High Streets.
[quote][p][bold]DavidRandall[/bold] wrote: Good points DB. Many will share your concern, but the point is that there are 38,000 people in Surbiton who need places to interact as well as shop. The retail economy is important for high streets, but creating a Town Team is a more inclusive approach to town centre management that gets other stakeholders involved too, not just the retailers. I want to see in Surbiton places for young people to go, business hubs, community information, space for creatives, places for retired people to socialise, intergenerational venues and entertainments, low cost rentals for start ups, etc. - it's not all about shopping![/p][/quote]I totally agree with this. The thing that seems to strangle everything is the rental value demanded by the commercial landlords being totally out of step with the footfall in Surbiton. That makes it hard enough for shops to become established here, let alone non-profit making entities such as you mention. I have even heard that certain commercial landlords rather see their shops empty rather than tenanted at a reduced rent to preserve the capital value of the property! This is what the government really need to address if they are going to create healthy High Streets. DB
  • Score: 0

4:21pm Wed 4 Apr 12

DB says...

DavidRandall wrote:
Good points DB. Many will share your concern, but the point is that there are 38,000 people in Surbiton who need places to interact as well as shop. The retail economy is important for high streets, but creating a Town Team is a more inclusive approach to town centre management that gets other stakeholders involved too, not just the retailers. I want to see in Surbiton places for young people to go, business hubs, community information, space for creatives, places for retired people to socialise, intergenerational venues and entertainments, low cost rentals for start ups, etc. - it's not all about shopping!
I totally agree with this.

The thing that seems to strangle everything is the rental value demanded by the commercial landlords being totally out of step with the footfall in Surbiton. That makes it hard enough for shops to become established here, let alone non-profit making entities such as you mention.

I have even heard that certain commercial landlords rather see their shops empty rather than tenanted at a reduced rent to preserve the capital value of the property!

This is what the government really need to address if they are going to create healthy High Streets.
[quote][p][bold]DavidRandall[/bold] wrote: Good points DB. Many will share your concern, but the point is that there are 38,000 people in Surbiton who need places to interact as well as shop. The retail economy is important for high streets, but creating a Town Team is a more inclusive approach to town centre management that gets other stakeholders involved too, not just the retailers. I want to see in Surbiton places for young people to go, business hubs, community information, space for creatives, places for retired people to socialise, intergenerational venues and entertainments, low cost rentals for start ups, etc. - it's not all about shopping![/p][/quote]I totally agree with this. The thing that seems to strangle everything is the rental value demanded by the commercial landlords being totally out of step with the footfall in Surbiton. That makes it hard enough for shops to become established here, let alone non-profit making entities such as you mention. I have even heard that certain commercial landlords rather see their shops empty rather than tenanted at a reduced rent to preserve the capital value of the property! This is what the government really need to address if they are going to create healthy High Streets. DB
  • Score: 0

4:31pm Wed 4 Apr 12

DB says...

Rivermummy wrote:
Well said David! and just a small point - Chiswick High Road is less than 2 miles from one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe - Westfield- and runs straight on from King Street Hammersmith which is also well served with shops - so obviously their independent retailers are doing the trick - and Davids vision seems to be similar. Good luck Surbiton, Queen of the Suburbs!
Oops, yes I forgot about Westfield!

I guess that is even less welcoming than Kingston if you are just popping in for a few essentials, but should still create the same problems for Chiswick retailers that Kingston does for Surbiton.
[quote][p][bold]Rivermummy[/bold] wrote: Well said David! and just a small point - Chiswick High Road is less than 2 miles from one of the biggest shopping centres in Europe - Westfield- and runs straight on from King Street Hammersmith which is also well served with shops - so obviously their independent retailers are doing the trick - and Davids vision seems to be similar. Good luck Surbiton, Queen of the Suburbs![/p][/quote]Oops, yes I forgot about Westfield! I guess that is even less welcoming than Kingston if you are just popping in for a few essentials, but should still create the same problems for Chiswick retailers that Kingston does for Surbiton. DB
  • Score: 0

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