Plans to revive Oakham’s high street are backed by town councillors

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TOWN councillors have backed two planning applications that could turn the future of a high street around.

Oakham Town Council recommended that Rutland County Council approve plans for clothing store Fat Face to open in High Street and for the conversion of Lord Nelson’s House in Market Place into pub and restaurant.

The town council had vowed to do its utmost to encourage traders into Oakham after its High Street has taken a turn for the worse over the past 12 months.

It has so far carried out a survey of premises and spoken to traders about the factors that they feel might bring more shoppers into Oakham, such as lower parking charges and increased tourism.

There are currently about 20 empty shops in the town centre.

Town councillor Alf Dewis said: “I am always very pleased when any business wants to open in Oakham but it’s difficult to ascertain whether these two are the trigger.”

Fat Face has said it is looking forward to opening its doors if its plans are approved.

It will initially create eight jobs in Oakham if it can convert the former Blockbuster building in High Street are approved by the development control and licensing committee at Rutland County Council.

The number of jobs is likely to increase once the shop opens.

The plans submitted to the council last week, less than one week after Blockbuster closed, sparked a ray of hope for town traders that the High Street might be on the verge of a revival.

But Coun Dewis has said he is not going to jump the gun.

He added: “There are still a number of empty premises in the town and if we could get more businesses opening than closing I think that would be the time to think that the corner may have been turned.”

A spokesman for Fat Face said: “We are thrilled to be opening a Fat Face store in Oakham.

“It such a pretty town with so much to offer including its charming historical appeal.

“It’s set to be a very valued location in the Fat Face portfolio and we are thoroughly looking forward to becoming part of the local community.

“We hope that the new store will be well received by Oakham shoppers.”

Lord Nelson’s House Hotel, formerly Nick’s Restaurant, has been bought by successful publican Michael Thurlby who owns premises in Bourne and Stamford.

He plans to turn the Grade II listed building into a two-storey restaurant and pub.

To view the planning applications online visit www.rutland.gov.uk or go to the council offices in Catmos Street, Oakham.