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Next urged to stay in town centre

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By Fiona Reid
Dumfries and West
Next urged to stay in town centre

CLOTHING chain Next is being urged to reconsider a possible move out of Dumfries to a retail park on the outskirts of town.

And there are hopes that a recent rates revaluation which is set to cut the store’s expenses might encourage them to remain in the Loreburne Shopping Centre.
MSP Joan McAlpine has written to Next, and said: “The store is so important to Dumfries town centre and the council’s planning policy is supposed to promote the town centre first.
“I am asking for a meeting with Next to urge them to reconsider.”
She added: “The substantial reduction in business rates due to the revaluation should encourage them to reconsider such a move.
“But I also want to see what else they require in order to stay.”
An application has been submitted to vary conditions for a new store in the former Storey Carpets unit at Cuckoo Bridge Retail Park.
Plans call for the store to install a mezzanine level and a cafe, but the move also requires permission to vary a condition to allow the sale of non-bulky goods.
Aprevious bid to vary such a licence at Cuckoo Bridge Retail Park was rejected by the council in 2006.
At that time, a report to councillors stated that applicant British Land said Next plc was a ‘potential occupier’, but they indicated that Next ‘would continue trading at their existing town centre store in the Loreburne Centre’.
Ms McAlpine fears a relocation would be potentially damaging to the town centre.
She said: “There has been a lot of buzz about regenerating the town centre in recent years, with organisations such as The Stove putting forward bold plans for housing, recent rebranding of the Loreburne Centre and measures in place from the Scottish Government to encourage investment.
“There has been such hard work going into regenerating the town centre in recent years, and thiswould be a huge blow.
“I hope that we can find a way forward.”
Ms McAlpine has also written to Dumfries and Galloway Council asking for assurances they are doing everything possible to keep Next in the town.
Next plc have yet to comment on the situation.

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