In 2018 Cherwell District Council purchased the Castle Quay Shopping centre. As a retail analyst, I’m not convinced that risking council tax payers money on a venture like this is a good idea and it’s already starting to unravel as a result of declining high streets and of course the impact of online retail. This has been made even more pressing as the effects of the pandemic has led to an even greater decline in real world retail.
Whilst I accept that keeping the centre open is vital to Banbury, and I largely agree with the development of the Castle Quay extension, I remain concerned about any impact on council finances as retail failures continue in the centre. I will be maintaining a watching brief on developments there.
I would still say that my preference would be for the council to support the smaller independent stores outside the centre in areas like Parsons Street. But I can see there is some scope to support smaller operators in the shopping centre itself.
I am also concerned that a huge amount of council resources are being poured into Castle Quay which is creating problems elsewhere in the district. The budgetary pressures created by the centre ae adding to the loss of services and increases in council tax across the whole district simply to plug holes in the council’s finances as a result.