Wednesday, 20 October 2021

Shops to be repainted as new grants are approved

THE first two grants have been awarded under Henley’s new shop front improvement scheme.

THE first two grants have been awarded under Henley’s new shop front improvement scheme.

The Bell Bookshop and Bagatelle Toys, both in Bell Street, are to receive £2,000 and £1,000 respectively. Both will use the money to repaint the front of their premises.

The Bell Bookshop, which is a Grade II listed building, will also replace the felt roof on the parapet above its awnings. Bagatelle Toys also plans to install a projecting sign bearing its logo.

Work at both premises will require scaffolding, for which a licence is required, and is expected to start next month. The money comes from Henley Town Council and South Oxfordshire District Council, which have contributed £5,000 each to the scheme.

Successful applicants have to match the grants with their own money.

A similar scheme attracted more than 20 applicants when it was launched in Thame in 2011 and town centre manager Peter McConnell first proposed one for Henley last year and it was approved by the town council in April. Alison Rosby, manager of the Bell Bookshop said: “We were going to have to get some work done this year, so we applied as soon as we were able.

“Our shop front looks a bit tired. I think we last did it seven years ago and being exposed to so much traffic in that time hasn’t helped.”

Mrs Rosby said the scheme was a “brilliant idea” that would help struggling retailers to make the town centre look prettier.

She said: “Redecorating can be a really big outlay for businesses and you only have to look at a lot of the old buildings in the town to see that they just don’t bother. We try to keep on top of it but it is expensive. We had our blinds professionally cleaned last year and that cost just over £700. It’s a big deal having to spend that sort of cash and when you’ve got other costs to meet it’s easy to put it off until it becomes urgent.”

Bagatelle Toys is owned by business partners Michael Carlton and Maryam Clifford-Turner.

Mr Carlton said: “This end of Bell Street is gradually improving and we want to be a part of that. Our shop front was looking pretty grotty, to be honest, so this will help us considerably in changing it.

“We also want to send a message to shoppers — a lot of stores have departed this year but we are not going to be one of them. We have been here for the past 30 years and have every intention of being here for the next 30.”

Mr McConnell said: “We are very pleased that we have been able to approve the grants for both these shops in a key part of the town. The grants will help them improve their exteriors in one of our most important streets and a gateway to the town.”

To apply for a shop front improvement grant, visit Telephone: (01491) 419419 Email:

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