The green shoots of recovery are being seen across Aylesbury, with a string of shops, restaurants and businesses opening in the past week and more on the way.
Town leaders have expressed their optimism about the future in a week when the chancellor, George Osborne, claimed the economy is turning the corner.
In the past week, the openings of international fashion chain Topshop, restaurant Harvester and Travelodge have all been celebrated.
The Friars Square shopping centre development, which includes Topshop, is complete, Budgens has opened in Buckingham Park and Indian restaurant Flame’s has begun trading in Southcourt. Currys and PC World have also opened a ‘superstore’ in the Cambridge Street retail park.
Education institutes have also got in on the act, with students arriving at the new Aylesbury Vale Academy on Monday and the University Technical College opening next week.
Teresa Lane, the district council’s head of town centre management, said there is momentum building.
She said: “In the conversations we are having with major retailers about the possibility of them coming to Aylesbury, their view is that there is more confidence in public spending. Things are beginning to look up.
“If we can start to get some new brands into Aylesbury and they do well then word starts to spread in the retail industry and it starts to put Aylesbury on the map.”
As well as the businesses that have opened this week, there are plenty more in the pipeline.
Jewellery giant Pandora will open in Friars Square before Christmas in the former home of Monsoon. Restaurants including Giraffe and Nando’s are on the way, with Wagamama also confirming it would like to come to the town. A 24/7 gym has also announced it will be opening in Exchange Street before the end of the year.
Friars Square has reported a 25% rise in footfall following the finishing of its pavilion project and it is hoped the rest of the town can benefit from the recent improvements.
Town centre manager Diana Fawcett said all the openings and future plans are ‘wonderful news’.
She said: “There’s been a huge amount of activity recently. Several letting agents with empty units are in negotiations with potential new tenants.
“It feels like we have turned the corner and we are bucking the national trend in terms of footfall.”
Waitrose opened its Waterside store last month and a new Sainsbury’s is also in the planning pipeline.
OPEN OR COMING OUR WAY
International fashion brand open in Friars Square
Broadfields restaurant open
Waterside hotel now open
Aylesbury Vale Academy
First day at new site on Monday
Southcourt restaurant open
Buckingham Park store open
New ‘superstore’ at retail park
Supermarket now trading
Due to open near Odeon cinema
Says it wants to come to town
Awaiting planning approval for Gatehouse superstore
Coming to Friars Square
Opening in Exchange Street
University tech college
Opens next week
Building in Stoke Mandeville Hospital
Coming to Broadfields