Confidence returning to Dunmow High Street

PESSIMISM over the health of Dunmow High Street is being replaced by optimism as business owners gear up for a busy summer.

Despite a number of premises remaining empty, confidence is slowing returning in the town.

The Saracens Head Hotel has undergone a �500,000 makeover, The Starr Restaurant has new owners, two new hairdressers have moved in, and locally-based Intercounty estate agent and Mercer and Hughes Veterinary Surgery have taken on bigger premises.

Two new shops – Scrumptious Tearooms in the former Juice Project building on Market Place, and dress agency The Paper Bag Princess Shop on Stortford Road – are also set to open in July.

Jane Turton, owner of Scrumptious Tearooms, says the opening of her first venture – just nine days before the Flitch Trials on July 14 – is proof better times are returning to Dunmow.

“Scrumptious Tearooms is designed to capture the nostalgia and essence of a 1930s English shop – the stalwart of the pre-war high street,” she said.

“I looked around at possible shops for months but I was drawn back to this one every time. I am really pleased to be in Dunmow and think the High Street is coming back.”

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Mike Perry, chairman of the Dunmow & District Chamber of Trade and Commerce, also sees reasons to be optimistic, particularly with the re-opening of the hotel at the Saracens. He added that if the pub is as successful as the new owners hope and other businesses expect, the town will soon be “buzzing with trade”.

“High Streets all over the country have been suffering because of the recession and Dunmow has been no different. The closure of the Saracens’ hotel rooms didn’t help. We have not had a hotel in the town to keep people coming back for weekend stays; the re-opening of the Saracens will be great for the town,” he said.

Mr Perry added that, with the Flitch Trials and the Dunmow Games fast approaching, a good showing on the trade front could put further foundations in place for Dunmow to build upon.

“The Flitch Trials are a key event that puts Dunmow on the map and I think everyone is looking forward to it. It is a good showcase for the town that could, hopefully, attract more businesses to fill the empty shops,” he added.

And, in a further boost, Uttlesford District Council’s new economic development officer, Simon Jackson, is taking a proactive approach to improving footfall in the town.

“I have met with the chamber of commerce and it is full of enthusiastic business owners, which is fantastic,” he told the Broadcast.

“I am organising a meeting in July for business owners and public sector workers so we can come up with ways to improve business in Dunmow.”