Safely reopening Southborough High Street
Wednesday 3 March 2021
At the Southborough Centre, we’re proud to be part of the fabric of Southborough’s community. The town has many things to be proud of. It’s a thriving high street which is home to many local and independent shops. Like all high streets, the majority of shops on Southborough High Street have had to close their doors to customers. However, a new campaign has been launched by Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to tackle this. It’s aimed at getting customers back to the high street when it’s safe to do so.
Southborough’s specialist shops
The team at the Southborough Centre always count themselves lucky to work in such a thriving local community, with so many amenities on their doorstep. In fact, in talking to our customers, we know that Southborough High Street is a key reason why lots of them choose to locate their business in our centre, knowing they have a wealth of stores and facilities on hand.
The area provides common shops, such as Tesco, Laundryheap (a dry cleaning service) and Cost Cutter. Southborough is also home to lots of specialist retailers, including: Kent Cricket Direct, the only cricket shop in Kent; Running Hub, an independent running shop; and Contain Yourself, a zero-waste store.
We’re also proud of Southborough High Street’s vibrant food scene. This includes The Earl Grey, a lovely tearoom offering different beverages and homemade cakes. Nearby is Imli, a locally owned Indian and Turkish restaurant, as well as chains, such as Papa Johns and Dominoes.
Like so many shops, all bar essential ones have been forced to shut their doors to customers. Amid the latest government restrictions, they are instead only able to offer online services or click-and-collect. The impact on this not only has repercussions on their physical sales. It’s also having a negative impact on the community in Southborough.
Bringing shoppers back to Southborough
The impact of coronavirus on local high streets has prompted Tunbridge Wells Borough Council to launch an initiative. This is aimed at getting customers back to the satellite high streets in Tunbridge Wells, when it is deemed safe to do so by national government. The campaign is targeting the borough’s satellite high streets in Cranbrook, Hawkhurst, Paddock Wood and Southborough. It’s being funded by the European Regional Development Fund.
The campaign has further links to Southborough and our Centre, as our clients, Sharp Minds Communications, an award-winning PR and marketing firm, are orchestrating the push to encourage people to shop locally once restrictions are eased.
Local traders having their say
Tunbridge Wells Borough Council and Sharp Minds Communications want the campaign to be a truly collaborative effort, and have therefore been holding stakeholder meetings with local tradespeople to learn more about how they think their high streets should be reopened.
Talks with Southborough retailers have already taken place, with key members of Southborough Town Council also giving their input. From these talks, the key theme that emerged amongst traders in Southborough is that the town has a wealth of specialist shops on offer, with people travelling from all across Kent to access their services.
Meetings with stakeholders in Cranbrook and Hawkhurst are still yet to take place, and anyone who wishes to attend can book their place to have their say here.
Reopening the high street safely
One of the key concerns throughout the campaign is reopening Southborough High Street as safely as possible. This will only occur when it is allowed and safe to do so. Central to this will be accommodating socially distanced shopping. Also, ensuring that the correct government guidelines are followed.
As the home of so many businesses across West Kent, we cannot wait to see an increase in traffic. We look forward to more lively satellite high streets all throughout Tunbridge Wells. In particular, we can’t wait to be able to visit all our favourite stores in Southborough and feel the community spirit once more.