Chichester could see new store openings after retail outlets close

There is hope that Chichester can still thrive, despite the closure of a major business, as wholesale changes are set to take place in the city centre.

Thursday, 7th October 2021, 4:43 pm
Updated Wednesday, 13th October 2021, 4:06 pm

Following news that popular retailer Next is closing its East Street store, it became apparent that another clothing giant, New Look, could be about to move in.

New Look closed its former East Street store on Sunday but this came after a planning application was submitted, requesting permission to install signage at The Corn Exchange — a Grade II listed building.

"It’s good to see that New Look still see Chichester as a positive investment proposition and wish to retain their presence on our high street," said Helen Marshall, vice chairman and CEO of Chichester's Business Improvement District (BID). Read more here

East Street, Chichester. Photo: Kate Shemilt

Although Next is not due to close until October 21, the former New Look shop is now vacant and there are already rumours about a potential replacement.

Sports Direct, owned by the Frasers Group, is reportedly planning a move into the site.

A planning application has been submitted, requesting permission to respray the shopfront with paint and install new signage.

Meanwhile, internal works are underway at the old Russell and Bromley store in South Street.

Next will close its store at The Corn Exchange on October 21

The shoe store revealed in August that its closure was due to ‘unforeseen circumstances’ and speculation is rife that clothing retail company Anthropologie could be moving into the vacant shop by the Market Cross.

The Frasers Group and Anthropologie have, so far, not responded to requests for comment.

A Chichester District Council spokesperson said: “We are committed to supporting retailers and businesses in both the city centre and across the district. This is more important than ever especially as our district recovers from the economic effects of the pandemic.

"To help our businesses through the coronavirus lockdowns and to help them bounce back following the pandemic, we provided Covid Recovery grants and issued millions of pounds of Government Covid-19 grants.

New Look closed its former East Street store on Sunday. Photo: Google Street View

"We also have a variety of other schemes, grants and projects dedicated to supporting district businesses, such as; a business support contact scheme, where we work directly with all types of local businesses to offer advice and information on a range of issues; an enabling grants scheme to give small businesses the opportunity to access funding that will help them to grow and develop; a pop-up shop scheme located in Crane Street, Chichester, that gives local start-up businesses and entrepreneurs the chance to trade in a high street location without the commitment or cost of a longer-term lease and access to free online training for independent retailers and other interested businesses, with a grants scheme to follow."

The council has also developed an events strategy and programme for the district 'to help encourage more footfall'.

The spokesperson added: "Event examples include the recent Summer Street Party in Chichester city centre which was extremely successful, and the forthcoming Cross Market & More event at the beginning of November.

"We have also made improvements to our parks and gardens and city centre toilets to make shoppers and visitors feel more welcome and we have also introduced the parking MiPermit app to make it easier for people to stay longer in the city and shop locally.

Internal works are underway at the old Russell and Bromley store in South Street

"We have also been running a Shop Local campaign to encourage residents to come together in support of their local businesses and we will also be running a Christmas support local campaign.

"This includes a number of parking incentives throughout December including free parking every weekend in December in the Avenue de Chartres car park in Chichester and free parking after 4pm in the Avenue de Chartres car park for the Christmas light switch on and late night shopping events in Chichester.

"People can also select two hours and get a third free in most council-owned car parks across the district during December when using the MiPermit app:"

As part of the Chichester Vision, the council is working with partners on 'further actions for the high street', adding: "We are also working to encourage different types of businesses to come and trade in our district as part of our new inward investment strategy, which will also have knock on effects in terms of bringing more people to the city centre and wider district."

City business plan on hold

Chichester City Council’s business plan is still on hold.

This is due to the long-lasting effects of the pandemic and ‘associated uncertainties’, according to city councillor Sarah Sharp,

A statement by Ms Sharp, read out on her behalf during a meeting on Wednesday, September 29, said that Chichester District Council and West Sussex County Council ‘face ongoing budget cuts that affect many services’. She said: “Services which are discretionary risk being given low priority and in other cases services are only being progressed if they involve issues of safety.

“This may cause some dissatisfaction and puzzlement among residents.”

Councillor Sharp said different ways of financing projects should be able to be brought forward, ‘with the aim of enhancing the community and the lives of the residents’, adding:

“Discussion should also carry with it a realistic expectation of staffing support necessary to make future intentions happen.”

Councillor Craig Gershater, who has been re-working the business plan, said one idea was an ‘away day’ for councillors, who could interrogate what a business plan is and its objectives. It was resolved to continue with this plan.