‘We have to be realistic about what’s happening in our town centres and look where bigger investment is coming from’ the economic development manager has said about the changing face of the high street.
Mr Gibbon said: “The town centre is part of the community. Yes we need a town centre but I also think we have got to be realistic about them and where some of the bigger investments are coming from.
“If a business decides to pull out of the area it’s because it’s not a slight on the area. It’s a crucial decision to pull out of the town.”
He said retail as a whole is changing and local authorities had to look at how to adapt to that - for instance whether empty shops can have changes of use, whether they go to residential or whether they go part residential and part commercial etc.
“Coffee shops, for instance, are a cultural thing. Now we drink a lot of coffee, years ago we would have been having this meeting in a pub.
“We need to accept that now we do it in coffee shops.
“The whole culture is changing around high streets. We have got to be mindful of how we increase that development.”
He outlined plans to create a more ‘restaurant and food based’ economy on Boston’s high street, with outlets that complement the style of going shopping, stopping for lunch and then doing some more shopping before stopping for a coffee.
He said that Boston complimented the family oriented restaurants such as Prezzo, Nandos and Chiquito.
“That’s where we sit, and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
However he said: “I take issue with the sorts of comments that say Boston has nothing to offer, if you walk down our High Street from the bottom, you’ve got Coney’s, Cammack’s, Next, Waterstones, WH Smiths, Oldrids, Marks and Spencers, Hoppers and more”
“If the offer isn’t there or people can’t see that then there’s definitely something wrong.
“That’s a tremendous mix of good quality retail offer that a lot of towns would love to have.”
A spokesman for the council added that Boston’s empty shop rate has been less than other areas for a long time.
Mr Gibbon said there were exciting plans coming up and the council was always in talks with developers.
Asked if Primark would come to the town he said: “If you look at Primark’s retail model, there’s no shop in Boston that’s big enough.”
However, he urged people to keep an eye out, adding ‘some exciting developments; are coming to Boston, potentially in the town centre’.