"We're becoming like every other town in the UK" - Aylesbury Business owner speaks out

Rachel Edmonds, owner of Gatehouse Diner is worried about the affect a new Greggs on Gatehouse Way will have on local businesses in the area.
Rachel Edmonds, owner of Gatehouse Diner is worried about the affect a new Greggs on Gatehouse Way will have on local businesses in the area.

Rachel Edmonds, owner of Gatehouse Diner is worried about the affect a new Greggs on Gatehouse Way will have on local businesses in the area.

She is concerned that is the council will approve the FOURTH Greggs in town, that the multinational bakery chain will stifle local, independent businesses.

Rachel said: "Put simply, the Council aren't doing enough to protect local businesses in the area.

"They don't seem bothered about the affect that the fourth Greggs in town will have on independent retailers.

Currently on the Gatehouse, there is the Gatehouse diner, a burger van, a coffee van and a new 'why not coffee' shop which has opened recently.

"We have these small independents already, so why do we need a Greggs? It's just greed on behalf of the bigger company.

"We've been here for nearly 50 years in Aylesbury. It would be a massive shame if Greggs came in and took all this business away from local retailers.

Earlier this year we saw the closure of Rocky and Kook, and last year saw the close of independent retailer YoYoghurt in town.

YoYoghurt closed because of high business rates, high rental costs and the lack of footfall.

Rachel added: "The Council seem to be supporting the bigger businesses instead of helping out the independent retailers.

"This will be the fourth Greggs in Aylesbury, we've already got three. Is this really necessary?

"The independent retailers make our town what it is. We're going to end up like every other town in the UK with no individuality."

The Gatehouse diner is part of the disability confidence group, who employ people with disabilities.

Rachel said: "We currently employ people with disabilities and want to allow them to showcase their talents at work with us.

"Do Greggs afford the same opportunities to disabled people? We want to offer anybody who can work the opportunity to work. It would be a massive shame if we lost out to a company who didn't."

The new Greggs is set to be built on the site of Barclays Bank.

Steve Bowles, AVDC Cabinet Member with responsibility for Economic Development responded to Rachel's concerns in the following statement.

He said:

"While we understand the points Mrs Edmonds is making we cannot stop people coming forward with development proposals and as far as planning is concerned commercial competition is not a material consideration in the determination of a planning application.

"Retail and food retail is highly competitive not just locally, but nationally. This has been recognised by the government's Small Business Rate Relief - available to businesses in properties with a Rateable Value of £15,000 or less and the introduction this year of a two year retail discount - giving retailers 1/3 off Business Rates. Unfortunately, the Gatehouse Diner only qualifies for the retail discount.

"AVDC does not set the business rates or commercial rent levels for commercial property.

"AVDC is supporting local business in a number of ways:

-through the Town Centre Partnership;

-sponsoring the Visit Aylesbury website;

-organising and supporting events in Aylesbury that draw people into the town - be these one off events like WhizzFizzFest or the Waterside Festival or regular activities such as the weekly markets;

-embarking on major regeneration projects, such as The Exchange, that again make Aylesbury an attractive destination. And talking of The Exchange we have recently announced that The Grill Steakhouse - a local independent business that has grown successfully in Aylesbury - has taken a unit and will be opening next month;

"The council also wants businesses which are not in the town centre to succeed and recognises Gatehouse Industrial area as a key employment area in the draft Local Plan.

"We are encouraging businesses to come forward in this area which would help generate customers for businesses such as the Gatehouse Diner, in addition to the planned housing in this part of Aylesbury;

- supporting the wider growth of Aylesbury - new housing developments that bring new people and potential customers;

- promoting Aylesbury Vale as an attractive inward investment destination - seeking to attract new businesses and new jobs. Not in Aylesbury but elsewhere in the district initiatives such as The Westcott Business Incubator that is attracting new small start-ups and Silverstone Park."