Kendal BID new manager on the Spinning Jennies development

The future of Kendal’s retail heart is set for a boost as major figures responsible for the town’s renaissance have outlined their plans –   despite two shops revealing they are closing their doors this week.

Peter Brendling, newly-appointed manager of Kendal Business Improvement District, is fully aware of concerns about empty retail units in the town but has revealed the BID’s plans to revitalise the town along with some exciting new private developments.

“We are concerned about the number of empty shops, and the number of shops that are closing in the town, and BID are very actively trying to encourage new businesses to come into the town,” he said.

“With Savers closing in Kendal town centre, I have certainly heard rumours that there is a supermarket chain going in there, but nothing solid, neither is the rumour I’ve heard that Lidl is moving into the departing Homebase on Beezon Road – who have officially confirmed they are closing.

“I’ve only been in post two weeks but we’re looking at improving the situation in various different ways – through our own website, we are going to be much more active in the use of social media to encourage new business to come into town. 

“We’re also working with the various commercial letting agents, looking at various ways we can encourage new businesses to come into Kendal.

“We are also trying to find somewhere in a couple of the yards that we can have pop-up-shops so new businesses that are starting up, rather than having to commit to a long-term lease, could possibly sign up for a matter of months so they can so how business is going.

Peter, whose background is in hospitality, travel, and tourism, has a shop in Blackhall Yard in Kendal and spoke of the positive developments that are coming the town’s way.

“BID is also offering shop-front grants, and training grants, and a lot of businesses have applied for them, and we’re always here to give any advice we can for new and existing businesses,” he said.

READ HERE FOR MORE DETAILS ON BID BUSINESS GRANTS

“It’s going both ways – there are a lot of empty shops at the moment but there are also a lot of projects going on to bring more shops into the town.

“One of them is Spinning Jennies at the old Beales site.

“Hopefully it’ll bring a lot of new businesses into there, it’s a very big project, and all power to them.”

Geraldine Ward and her partner William Smith are behind the new Spinning Jennies development on Finkle Street.

Geraldine passionately believes that Kendal is on the verge of a very bright future, and revealed the latest updates on the ambitious project.

“We’re splitting the development up so the first floor is going to become creative spaces for businesses in their infancy, so shop frontages with creativity going on behind – we’ve had loads of interest in that,” she said.

“We’re particularly looking for people with a fashion design background, making anything from shoes, hats, rucksacks, coats, and anything that uses local fabrics and local artists, but I’m open to any ideas.

“I’m thrilled about it because we weren’t quite sure what to do with the first floor.

“I just followed the market, Facebook and Instagram and felt my way. 

“I decided that Kendal was a creative town, with talented people, so these units could help people start something that could grow later.

“I think it’ll be a very interesting space – if it was bigger I think I’d be doing Camden Lock all over again.

“There’ll be units slightly akin to the corn exchange in Leeds, or Burlington Arcade in London, or even the New Shambles in Kendal – there’s some fantastic little businesses there.

“The ground floor on Finkle Street will be divided, again, like Burlington Arcade meets New Shambles, into units for smaller independent retailers and I’m hoping we’re going to be attracting retailers that are selling products made in Cumbria, or as locally as possible.

The Westmorland Gazette: BEALES: The huge new development will transform the centre of townBEALES: The huge new development will transform the centre of town

“When you walk in through the front door of Finkle Street, you will walk into an arcade and go from shop to shop, and feel like it is all one, which is why we call it Spinning Jennies, but the last thing I want to do is create the look the old shopping centres, and we plan to have a food hall area on the lower ground floor.

“We’re probably looking at 18 months to two years before anything’s finished in the downstairs area.

“It’ll be phased but at least then there’ll be a building in town that’s active with no asbestos, and I regard it as in the magical triangle for retail and eating out in Kendal. 

“The biggest beast on the block is about to wake up and it’ll be good for the whole town.

“Good on it too, because Kendal’s a very pretty place, with nice people and nice things going on, and just up the road you’ve got one of the best places in the world in the Lake District – you can’t beat it.

“Kendal deserves its time again.”

The Westmorland Gazette | News