The future of the town centre is positive despite Chorley high street store closure
The future of Chorley town centre remains promising, is the positive message, despite the news that Argos is to close its Market Street store in May.
Argos has confirmed that the store will close on Saturday May 8.
It follows the permanent closure of standalone Argos stores in Leyland and Preston’s Fishergate Centre during lockdown.
It means the nearest Argos branch to Chorley will be nearly eight miles away inside Bamber Bridge Sainsbury’s, where staff have been offered new roles.
The news was greeted with dismay on the Chorley Guardian’s Facebook feed, with some people saying there would be nothing left in the town.
But Councillor Peter Wilson, Deputy Leader of Chorley Council, said: “While it’s disappointing to see business premises close, we are not immune to the effects of the COVID pandemic and the challenges faced by town centres across the country.
“However, things are looking really promising for Chorley town centre and its recovery.
“There’s still a lot of confidence in the local economy, with businesses wanting to start up or grow within Chorley.”
He continued: “During the pandemic we’ve seen businesses invest in the Market Street area, with a number of premises being let, including two new restaurants and an existing one planning to expand its premises into a vacant unit next door.
“The former Royal Bank of Scotland building on Market Street is currently being developed.
“We’ve been able to support some businesses with our Shop Front Improvement Grant scheme which not only helps the businesses financially, but brings vacant premises back to life.”
He said: “The combination of the investments into the town centre, combined with business support available puts us in a good place to recover quickly from the pandemic and we urge residents to continue to support local businesses in the future.”
Malcolm Allen, chairman of Chorley Traders Alliance, said: "It' very disappointing they're keeping the store in Bamber Bridge rather than Chorley when Chorley's footfall is expanding. Traffic lights round there are nightmare
"But it was always going to happen once Sainsbury's bought Argos. They were going to streamline it and fit it in Sainsbury stores because supermarket shoppers now have a large amount of supermarkets to shop from.
"It comes as a surprise they've picked Bamber Bridge than Chorley.
"The Chorley store is right in the town centre and you get a lot of out of town shoppers that come and click and collect."
He rejected claims that that part of town was becoming a 'ghost town'.
"It's not been a problem," he said.
"The Royal Bank of Scotland is going through refurbishment
"I don't see a problem with someone taking on the Argos building.
"To be quite honest, Argos could be split into smaller units.
"That might make it attractive to a nationwide firm or small independent - for example like we have seen form Brighthouse.
"There's a bit of investment needed at the bottom of Chapel Street."
He said any enhancement of the town centre was welcomed and added: "Because really the town centre starts at St George's Street and goes as far as Marks and Spencer's."