Members of Warwick’s Chamber of Trade are keeping a wary eye on the impact the Local Plan will have on their businesses.
Superficially, it might seem the idea of up to 12,900 new homes being built in the district over the next 15 to 18 years would be a terrific boost to trade.
But Sue Butcher who was last week re-elected as chairman of the local Chamber for the eighth year running, said: “We are very concerned about the potential build up of congestion in the town centre.
“Not least because we already have recent experience of exactly what can happen if our roads become too busy - it doesn’t take very long for people to simply go elsewhere.”
The Chamber has already added its support to the Save Warwick campaign group, with the specific intention of submitting their views on the upgraded roads system the county is proposing to cope with any new garden suburbs.
At their annual meeting held in a conference room at Warwick Racecourse, Mrs Butcher, who runs the Torrys hardware and DIY store in West Street, named the impact of the Local Plan as one of the priorities for the next 12 months.
She left London 20 years ago when her first husband, Brian Monk, bought Torrys and she intended to continue her career in nursing.
Tragically, Mr Monk became ill and died, leaving Sue with little option but to carry on with the store, which she now manages successfully with a staff of seven.
Some 100 local shopkeepers, restaurateurs, solicitors and photographers form the core of the Chamber’s Warwick membership.
Mrs Butcher said: “We are cautiously optimistic that business is improving in the town and we intend taking a full part in the 1,100 anniversary celebrations.”
She said some seven shops remained empty - including the former Jade electrical store in Market Street which is owned by the district council, and three or four shops in Smith Street.
It seemed that the larger units were not being leased so easily as they were too big for small entrepreneurs but not quite big enough for major retailers.
Members also agreed to a greater partnership with fellow traders in Leamington, Kenilworth, Coventry and Warwickshire as a whole to have a greater input into not only the Local Plan but also the Gateway project.
Antiquarian bookseller Duncan Allsop, who has traded in Smith Street for the past 47 years, said: “Trade is still okay from my point of view. There are some empty shops in Smith Street, including one large one, but there seems to be fewer empty than there were a year or two ago.”