‘Lack of variety in Leighton’s shops’ says study

A lack of variety in the range of shops Leighton town centre has to offer is severely hampering trade, a survey of residents has found.

As part of a scheme to shape the future of the town centre the Leighton Linslade partnership committee commissioned a research group to interview 600 residents on their shopping tendancies.

A newly-released report on the findings has revealed that overwhelmingly the biggest concern for shoppers is a lack of variety on the high street, with 87% of respondents agreeing that they would like more diversity in the retail options available.

This was the main reason behind many stating that they prefer to shop in Milton Keynes, as 69% choose MK over Leighton for its bigger range of stores.

Comments gleaned from residents included opinions that the town centre had too many charity and betting shops and not enough clothes stores.

Close to a third added that they would prefer to see more high street names on board, with Next, Marks & Spencer and HMV among the retailers mentioned.

Partnership committee member Amanda Dodwell told the LBO that it is hoped the redeveloped south side of the high street will attract major retailers in the future.

She said: “Hopefully something like Next or BHS would be a possibility.

“This is a medium term goal so we would be looking at three to five years.

“At the moment we haven’t got many empty stores but most are smaller boutiques, charity shops or estate agents.

“With larger retailers more people would make a day out of coming into town and the larger south side of the high street would support the rest.

The survey also revealed that shoppers highly value Leighton’s heritage.

It read: “There is a strong sense of community and support for retaining the traditional feel of the market town.

“Many residents have grown up in the area or have family links and are proud of the historical aspects of the town. “

It added: “The customer service in shops is highly valued and noted as a key benefit of using the town centre.

“Local businesses were recognised as supporting community events and offering personal service to customers.”

> What’s your view of Leighton town centre and the findings? Email news@lbobserver.co.uk