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Green Shoots Showing In Town Centre As New Shops Prepare To Open

Published on: 20 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 22 Mar, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

There are glimmers of a brighter summer amid the retail freeze that has gripped Guildford’s town centre for so long.

If the government’s road-map works out, all retail will be opening from Monday, April 12. Behind the shutters, retail managers and staff are beginning to polish interiors and crossing their fingers.

The new Zaitouna Lebanese Kitchen preparing to open in North Street.

With the lockdown closing shops for effectively nine months in the past year, which shops will reopen in April if the government allows the rules to be relaxed is difficult to predict

Guildford is said to be doing better than many areas, although the shop vacancy rate of 13% is about the same as the national average of 13.2%.

After the collapse of Sir Philip Green’s Arcadia, the closure of Topshop, an anchor tenant in The Friary, leaves a big gap in North Street.

My Healthcare Clinic on North Street just near the library. The new shop front appeared yesterday (March 19)

Many chains, including Debenhams and TM Lewin, were among those with Guildford branches that fell under the harsh retail conditions. Footfall, too, has been falling each year with the surge in online shopping and more shops are likely bring down the shutters.

But as the town centre prepares to reopen, there are positive signs as new shops get ready to launch in the town centre.

With pent-up demand for shopping and eating out, three of the five new shops are restaurants.

The Hazet Turkish Restaurant joins the many other eating establishments in Chapel Street.

The new Zaitouna Kitchen is opening in North Street, next to Swan Lane. A source told The Dragon it is owned by the same people who run the successful Jeita Restaurant in Chertsey Street. That sounds very promising, the Jeita gets great reviews.

Another shop just about to open is the My Healthcare Clinic, a private medical, dental and specialist medical provider, located in North Street next to the library.

Another new restaurant is to open in Chapel Street. The Hazet Turkish Restaurant lines up with Meat The Greek, Theion Greek Restaurant and Giggling Squid among the eating establishments that have made the Chapel Street area so popular with diners.

Are Ivy Asia coming to the Tunsgate Quarter? The concept of the restaurant on the first floor presumably provides a more private dining experience.

And good news for the Tunsgate Quarter where we understand the Ivy Asia restaurant is preparing to move in. A spokesperson said only: “Our leasing agents are talking to a number of interested parties at the moment.” But an application for an alcohol licence pasted on the shop window in the name of Ivy Asia maybe gives the game away.

A planning application for the new restaurant shows the eating area on the first floor. The entrance is in Tunsgate on the ground floor along with the kitchens and toilets. The Ivy restaurant, which appears to be part of the same group, has been in the Tunsgate Quarter since it opened in March 2018.

Tattam’s coffee and cocktail bar in Tunsgate will be ready to open after the fire in February.

Just over the road, Tattam’s, the coffee and cocktail bar, is undergoing a refurbishment after a fire in the kitchen devastated the premises in February. Workmen at the bar said they hoped to have it ready for opening by the May deadline.

The gents’ hairdressers, Jack’s of London, are moving into the Grade II-listed Constitutional Hall from their present spot on the corner of Jeffries Passage and the High Street.

Workmen were busy yesterday preparing for Jack’s of London, gent’s hairdressers, to move to the Grade II-listed Constitutional Hall in upper High Street.

In Jeffries Passage, Kris Tucknott, owner of the Unplug and Play board game shop said he was looking forward to opening in May because his premises are classed as an “indoor entertainment and attraction”. He was upbeat about the future after “treading water” for so long.

Board games shop, Unplug and Play had about 200 games out on loan. “It’s not the answer,” said owner Kris Tucknott, “but it has really helped”.

Other news. Rituals, who sell home, bath and body cosmetics, is said to be opening a shop in Swan Lane. And the Matrix Trust, the Christian charity in Guildford helping young people, is opening its new café on April 12 in the Allen House Grounds off Chertsey Street.

Guildford wouldn’t be the same without a busker in the High Street. Brian Leslie, a first year student at the ACM, entertained the few who were out in the High Street and said: “So long as I can eat and make people happy, it’s good enough for me.”

First Year ACM student, Brian Leslie busking outside the Guildhall. His sign says: “Musician trying to make a living”.

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test 3 Responses to Green Shoots Showing In Town Centre As New Shops Prepare To Open

  1. Peta Malthouse Reply

    March 22, 2021 at 9:34 am

    Good to see and not long to wait now. Thank you Hugh Coakley for your article. I’ll be there!

  2. Anthony Rooth Reply

    March 25, 2021 at 4:30 pm

    Green shoots for both business and pleasure.

    Pick up a coffee from the Tunsgate Telephone box then relax in our beautiful Castle Gardens. Buy some cakes, scones, baguettes from Kallie’s Deli in Chertsey Street next to Allen House Grounds.

    Guildford has many independent shops and calm spaces where green shoots should burst into colour.

    Anthony Rooth is the R4GV councillor for Pilgrims ward.

    • Paul Spooner Reply

      March 25, 2021 at 6:04 pm

      It is good to see Cllr Rooth being supportive of town centre retail. A U-turn that is very welcome indeed and in contrast with his regular “insight” reports supporting decline in the period up to May 2019.

      Great article from Hugh Coakley.

      Paul Spooner is a Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham

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