Okehampton town centre undergoes 'health check'
By localgirl | Monday, September 10, 2012, 11:24
Okehampton would benefit from less traffic and a better range of shops, according to local residents interviewed as part of a study carried out by West Devon Borough Council.
Local people were asked for their views in an independent report which will help shape Okehampton's future. Overall, the study found Okehampton has a good range of food shops with the majority of residents doing their food shopping in the town.
But when asked what they disliked about Okehampton, nearly a third (27.8%) mentioned traffic, with 13.4% specifying traffic problems in the town centre and the remainder (14.4%) referring to 'general congestion'. Of those asked, 28.4% highlighted the poor range of shops, especially clothes shops.
Unsurprisingly the health check revealed the town's retail offering is dominated by Waitrose, Co-op and Lidl, but the report said the stores boosted the town's overall vitality. The report also noted a potential to increase the role of the Okehampton farmers' market held at St James Chapel Square.
The study found that while Okehampton was well served by banks and estate agents, it would also benefit from a better choice of restaurants and cafes. There are also too few hairdressers, when compared to the national average.
The 'health check' also revealed the number of vacant units have increased from three in 2010 to seven to 2011, although in terms of percentage this is still below the national average. The number of charity shops has increased from two in 2005 to five in 2012.
Overall, the report found the town had weathered the recession better than other small town centres, but more investment was needed to meet the needs of the local people as well as tourists and businesses.
Cllr Diana Moyse, lead Member for Strategic Planning, said: "We welcome this study as it provides us with key evidence to shape our towns for the future. Many organisations and individuals have contributed to the interviews and workshops that were held as part of the study. Now, the Council wants to consult with its residents and the business community on the study's findings and next month (Oct) we will be holding a series of consultation sessions. We will then use the study and the community's views to shape future policy in West Devon."
The full report can be found at http://www.westdevon.gov.uk/doc.asp?doc=18699&cat=983&src=fp
How do you think Okehampton town centre could be improved?