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Councillor urges 'pop-up shop' scheme to revive 'stagnant' King's Lynn shopping scene

Discussions have been held on revitalising King’s Lynn’s shopping offering in time for Christmas, with one councillor saying the town was “stagnant and dying”.

At a meeting of West Norfolk Council’s regeneration & development panel at Lynn town hall yesterday, independent councillor Jo Rust pointed to the success of Holt’s Sunday market – which returned on a regular basis in June after a 60-year absence.

Mrs Rust said: “I really do think that a pop-up shop scheme would allow new and small start-up retailers and entrepreneurs to test the market.”

What should be done to bring the crowds back to Lynn's town centre?
What should be done to bring the crowds back to Lynn's town centre?

She added: “I fully appreciate that Holt’s successful for a different load of reasons to King’s Lynn.

“However, what is successful there can be emulated here, taking on board our differences.”

The councillor said she counted 48 empty shops in the town centre on a walk on Monday.

Borough councillor Jo Rust.
Borough councillor Jo Rust.

Mrs Rust suggested: “We could offer free rental for a six month to a year period to a new business that might have started online during Covid and give them a chance to be nurtured.”

“We could also offer subsidised space in a larger market-type environment, where we bring lots of small traders together under one roof and also provide opportunities for established businesses to try new things.”

She later said: “Imagine the scenario of a thriving market-type shop the size of Debenhams and the people it would draw into the town to trial all the wares it offered, as well as an outlet mall idea, transforming our dying and stagnant town into something vibrant and exciting.”

Several variations of the ideas listed by Mrs Rust for how the council could help traders were suggested by the other panel members.

Panel chair Judith Collingham said: “I think we have to be very careful that we don’t spend too long thinking about things instead of seizing the initiative…

“I sometimes get a bit frustrated that we ‘talk the talk’ and we have such brilliant ideas coming out of this panel and it never translates into anything.”

Duncan Hall, the council’s assistant director for regeneration, housing and place, thanked councillors for the “really unified set of messages”, which he would bring to council cabinet members.

Mrs Collingham said she supported the suggestion of assembling a task force in time for Christmas, to see how the town’s festive market offering could be supported.

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