A few months ago I wrote about my wise mum’s words: She told me the area around the former Woolworths was a tatty mess. And she was right.
Back in March, the façade of Tesco Express, in St Andrew’s Street, was still covered in scaffolding despite the store having been open for more than a year; the forecourt of Poundland looked dated, shabby and untidy; and the former Officer’s Club store was still vacant.
Now, I’m pleased to see and read some progress in this area is being made. Many will have noticed the scaffolding around Tesco has been removed, much improving the street scene and pedestrian safety. Unfortunately, the façade of Poundland is still the same and the last time I walked past needed a good clean. However, thanks to a wise decision by planning inspector Frances Mahoney (as reported in last week’s Bury Free Press), the former Officer’s Club unit has now become more desirable to tenants. Permission has been granted for the site to be used as a restaurant – and I have high hopes it will be snapped up soon.
The value of having empty units such as this up and running again – in whatever future form they may take – cannot be underestimated. This particular area of the Cornhill is the gateway to St John’s Street, which is home to some fantastic independent retailers that deserve all the support we can give them. Those of us familiar with the town centre already know what the street has to offer, but visitors will not. Anything which deters them from venturing further than the arc and town centre needs to be remedied.
And to anyone who might bemoan a change of use of this site from retail to eaterie: Correct me if I’m wrong, but in times past wasn’t this particular building The Griffin pub? If I’m right, and given that most pubs today focus more on food than ale, if it is turned into a restaurant it will be a case of the building returning to its roots.
n Don’t forget, the annual St John’s Street Fayre takes place next Saturday, June 22. Make the time to visit the fayre and explore the street’s stores and eateries.