'Lanes' bid to create new antiques hub
Traders in Torbay are planning to draw in more visitors by becoming a little more like Brighton.
An initiative is being launched by traders to create a new image for Winner Street drawing on its growing number of independent specialist shops and restaurants.
The Paignton Business Improvement District (BID) group has been working with traders, landlords and Torbay Council to identify ways of reinforcing the area's appeal to shoppers, particularly for items like antiques and second hand goods.
Matthew Clarke, chairman of the steering group said: "There are some of us who have enjoyed the delights of wandering around The Lanes, in Brighton, browsing the numerous shops stuffed full of antiques and curios.
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"The architecture in the area lends itself to this popular category of retailing strengthened by the numerous hit television shows such as Bargain Hunt, Antiques Road Trip, Cash in the Attic and, of course, the Antiques Roadshow.
"However, here in Devon there is a lack of such a community of shops that lend themselves to the arts whether they be antique shops or galleries, craft shops and studios with perhaps a mix of ethnic restaurants.
"Winner Street is just the right area to promote the idea to encourage like-minded businesses to gather in a community of 'retailing' which would act as a major reason to come to Paignton as a destination."
Mr Clarke said the previous projects to enhance the appearance of the street, with the specially crafted shop signs and restored shop fronts, together with some existing successful shops, had already created the right kind of atmosphere for the venture.
"Early discussions have been had with a couple of the landlords and a representative of the council who have initially welcomed this idea.
"The 'Welcome to Winner Street' feature has now been installed and we're encouraging businesses to view the street in a different light.
"There are many galleries and studios paying exorbitant rates and rent to exist in neighbouring towns.
"Here in Paignton, we are planning to have an indoor antique market in one of the larger units and to purchase our own market stalls to have regular themed markets in Palace Avenue.
"With a variety of shops of all sizes available in Winner Street and Church Street the idea could take off very rapidly. The Irish Bar, now empty, opposite the Co-op would make an excellent addition in a new guise to the already fantastic Nepalese and Thai restaurant offering.
"One only has to see what happened to Hay-on-Wye to see what can be achieved if all parties work together to create an exciting and unique destination to attract customers far and wide to our town."