What do you think about the future of shops in Dereham after Poundstretcher moves in?


Dereham - Credit: ©Archant Photographic 2008

The Times is this week calling for a debate about the future of shops in Dereham after news of the imminent opening of a new pound shop and a charity shop supermarket sparked concern and relief in equal measures.

Poundstretcher, a national chain with more than 400 branches, is preparing to set up in the old Bennetts store next to Homebase, while animal charity Pact is set to open its new supermarket in Norwich Street tomorrow.

Some Times readers raised fears that more charity and budget shops would damage the town's reputation as a shopping destination and said the town badly needed a men's clothes shop or bookshop instead.

However, others were pleased to see otherwise empty shopping units brought into use, and more shops to cater for people struggling during the economic downturn.

Dereham mayor Linda Monument wholeheartedly welcomed the news, saying: 'It's important that we do have the units full and there are shops that cater for the people on a low budget.

'I think the shops we have in Dereham provide us with a very good spread. [Poundstretcher] gives an additional reason for people to shop in the town rather than go elsewhere to shop for bargains.'

She said she buys almost everything she needs in the town and added: 'It's very much dependent on the people of Dereham to support the shops they have got for the things they don't want to buy over the internet.'

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Town councillor Robert Hambidge said: 'The charity shops we have came because other shops can't compete with Tesco.'

Fellow councillor Phillip Duigan talked up the town's prospects, citing last week's approval of the £1m redevelopment in Norwich Street which could create 40 jobs and house a supermarket for local produce and a fashion house.

More than 3,500 people have joined the debate on the Times's Facebook page.

Louise Gayfer said: 'I think it's better to have something filling an empty space rather than nothing, whatever it is. Times are tough, I can't see any big retailers like Next coming to Dereham any time soon – there's not enough footfall for them to bother.

'People moaned when Poundland announced they were coming to Dereham but it's thriving and always filled with shoppers so if everyone hates it so much who is shopping there?'

Michelle Barnes wrote: 'Dereham needs more decent shops to attract more business, while all these cheap shops and charity shops keep coming in all Dereham will end up as is a ghost town.'

Peter Defcon Wood said: 'All we have is budget and discount stores. There is no big branded shops here. No clothes shops for people under 65. And generally nothing to stop you going to the city, there may as well be no shops in Dereham.'

We want to know what you think. What sort of shops does Dereham need? What can we do to help our town centre thrive?

Comment below, write to dft.letters@archant.co.uk or join the debate at facebook.com/derehamtimes