Is this what our high street needs? Salvation Army super charity store to open in Northampton town centre

The announcement of a charity superstore opening in Northampton's high street has been met with mixed reactions.

Monday, 17th July 2017, 6:42 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th September 2017, 11:55 am
The charity superstore in Abington Street opens on July 27.

The site of the former Primark store in Abington Street will open for business as the Salvation Army's "Great Big Charity Superstore" on July 27.

The 10,000 square-feet store will be entirely stocked with donated and second-hand items, including white goods, clothes and books, and will also have a cafe.

Some Chronicle & Echo readers have taken to Facebook to welcome the announcement - while others say it is a sign that too many charity shops are opening in the town.

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Chron reader Neil Gill said: "Fantastic! So pleasing to see. Let's hope it enables lots of families to be able to buy good quality furniture and necessities without paying huge high street prices."

But another post on the Chron's Facebook page by Tim Hillery said: "No disrespect to The Salvation Army as they do a great job, but this speaks volumes about the state of the town centre when a prime site that size can only attract a charity shop.

"The fact that there is no sign of any development going on at the old Greyfriars or Chronicle & Echo sites and the old gas tower site is cause for concern."

In 2014, Northampton Borough Council spent £3million redeveloping Abington Street to re-open it up to cars and increase footfall, claiming the move was "just one part" of the "Northampton Alive regeneration programme".

Meanwhile, the opening of the £140million Rushden Lakes retail park in a matter of weeks has caused concern amongst Northampton's shop owners, who fear the development will draw business away from the town.

Reader Richard Dudley said: "We need to find innovative ways to encourage businesses back into the town, or Northampton town centre will surely suffer the same fate as many county towns and become a coffee and charity shop paradise."

In response to the new charity superstore, reader Tracey Richards said: "Probably not what people want to see but it's an economic necessity to a lot of families now who have to use food banks and charity shops."

Reader Mark Houlden: "Better than empty but a town cannot live on charity stores, poundland and nightclubs."

Councillor Tim Hadland, cabinet member for regeneration, enterprise and planning at Northampton Borough Council, said: “Charity shops have always had a place on British high streets and they can be a great way to foster community spirit.

“Given a choice between owning an empty unit or having a responsible tenant in place, I can understand why landlords often choose to let to charity shops. As the borough council however, we’re trying to look at ways to encourage different enterprises into the town centre.

“Northampton has a lot to offer potential new businesses and we’re working to engage with them and support them as far as possible. We’re particularly keen to help independent businesses to establish themselves here, and we offer a business improvement scheme grant to help local retailers thrive.”

The Salvation Army Great Big Charity Superstore opens on July 27.