Fears closure of Cheltenham House of Fraser store could leave hole in town's economy

  • Cheltenham residents share their fond memories of the department store.

Traders in Cheltenham say they fear the closure of the department store Cavendish House will leave a hole in the town's economy.

The closure of the store could not be avoided, according to the Chief Executive of Cheltenham BID.

It is owned by the House of Fraser group, which says it will try to find staff new roles before the store finally closes its doors in April.

For residents, it's been an integral part of the town since opening 201 years ago.

Brenda Ward used to work in the store and says she'll be sorry to see it go.

"They used to have everything, Christmas was fantastic", said Brenda.

People in the town said they had fond memories of "years ago when the guy used to doff his hat and let us in."

Keith Graham owns the outfitters shop next door and says he is concerned about the effect the closure will have.

He said: “It won’t be good for Cheltenham town because it’s going to take a very long time and an awful lot of money to re-develop it, and that will only add to the economic difficulties of Cheltenham.”

What could the building now be used for?

Steve Bryson from the Cheltenham Civic Society believes this could be an opportunity to change things for the better.

Mr Bryson said: “We don’t mind the building coming down, it is just a plain slab that was erected in about the middle of the last century.

"There’s nothing extraordinary about it so if it did have to come down to make way for a better scheme it has to be better.”

Cheltenham MP Alex Chalk believes a change of use could help young people.

Mr Chalk said: “Yes there will inevitably be some retail, but I’d be really interested to see accommodation if we could get some accommodation in as well.

"That’s critically important to create opportunities for young people, but also this helps to ease the pressure on the green spaces around Cheltenham.”

Max Wilkinson, who is a cabinet member for economic development, says it could be just what the town centre needs.

He said: “We know that the way people use High Streets is changing, and consumer behaviour is changing, that gives us an opportunity to bring in more houses into the town centre.

“I think that would be really popular for people who want to come and live in Cheltenham.

A spokesperson for the Fraser Group said in a statement: "We would like to take this opportunity to thank our staff for their hard work and dedication.

“Where possible, we are committed to finding new roles within the Group for staff.”