Welcome to the zombie apocalypse town: Despairing locals claim their once thriving high street is now derelict after slew of closures and new retail park opening up nearby drove shoppers away


Despairing locals have lamented over the state of their ‘thriving’ high street is now derelict after a slew of closures and a new retail park driving shoppers away.

Shoppers in Waterlooville, Hampshire expressed their ‘sadness’ today at how their beloved town centre would be dead if it wasn’t for the supermarket.

What used to be a ‘thriving’ high street has lost many big name stores including Waitrose, Wilko, Game and Peacocks in recent years.

The footfall has been ‘taken’ by a nearby retail park which tempts shoppers with the allure of Marks & Spencers.

The ‘barren’ high street has maintained its Wetherspoons, but many locals are growing tired of only having the choice of a charity shop or cafe – as they travel to nearby towns by car.

WATERLOOVILLE: A shopper walks by a dilapidated shop which once housed a Store Twenty One 

WATERLOOVILLE: The boarded up Wellington Way Shopping Centre just off the high street

WATERLOOVILLE: The boarded up Wellington Way Shopping Centre just off the high street

WATERLOOVILLE: Wendy and Eric Croad, 72 and 75 respectively, have lived in the area since 1955 but regret to see the area's sharp decline

WATERLOOVILLE: Wendy and Eric Croad, 72 and 75 respectively, have lived in the area since 1955 but regret to see the area’s sharp decline

WATERLOOVILLE: The footfall has been 'taken' by a nearby retail park which tempts shoppers with the allure of Marks & Spencers

WATERLOOVILLE: The footfall has been ‘taken’ by a nearby retail park which tempts shoppers with the allure of Marks & Spencers

BANBURY: Local resident Robert Page, 64, posing in front of a closed shop that used to be Debenhams

BANBURY: Local resident Robert Page, 64, posing in front of a closed shop that used to be Debenhams

BANBURY: Banbury residents have said their high street shops falling into hard times and closing down

BANBURY: Banbury residents have said their high street shops falling into hard times and closing down

Wendy and Eric Croad, 72 and 75 respectively, have lived in the area since 1955 but regret to see the area’s sharp decline.

Mr Croad said: ‘We used to have a picture house, now it’s derelict.

‘It’s mainly just charity shops, coffee shops and nail bars. Anything decent – not even decent – is at the retail park.’

Despite their misgivings, the couple make the most of it and visit the area almost daily.

‘We have a look in the charity shops and go to the ‘Spoons’,’ he added.

‘But we used to love it, there used to be loads of nice little shops.

‘I was up in Havant looking at an old map of Hampshire and the main road used to go right through here.’

Waterlooville, which is located near the South Downs National Park, is said to have its name originated from soldiers returning from nearby Portsmouth after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815.

Many of them are believed to have settled there and the town pub was thereafter renamed in their honour and the area around the pub became known as Waterloo.

WATERLOOVILLE: A closed down Peacocks on Waterlooville's high street

WATERLOOVILLE: A closed down Peacocks on Waterlooville’s high street

WATERLOOVILLE: Waterlooville, which is located near the South Downs National Park, is said to have its name originated from soldiers returning from nearby Portsmouth after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

WATERLOOVILLE: Waterlooville, which is located near the South Downs National Park, is said to have its name originated from soldiers returning from nearby Portsmouth after the Battle of Waterloo in 1815

WATERLOOVILLE: What used to be a 'thriving' high street has lost many big name stores including Waitrose , Wilko, Game and Peacocks in recent years

WATERLOOVILLE: What used to be a ‘thriving’ high street has lost many big name stores including Waitrose , Wilko, Game and Peacocks in recent years

WATERLOOVILLE: A man walks his dog past a closed down Game store on in Waterlooville

WATERLOOVILLE: A man walks his dog past a closed down Game store on in Waterlooville

Mrs Croad, who used to work in the shopping centre’s Iceland, said: ‘I feel very sad – it needs regenerating.

‘It was a lovely little place but it just looks so poor now – like Blackpool.

‘It looks very run down, it’s awful. Or if they’re not going to do that, then pull it down – they’d be better off doing that.

‘If you were a visitor here, you wouldn’t think much of it.’

Of a particularly barren stretch, where only a Sue Ryder charity shop remains, she observed: ‘I don’ think people are wanting to move into these units.

‘If Iceland wasn’t here this place would be dead. Footfall here in general is being kept up by Iceland and Asda.

‘It’s a sign of the times, supermarkets have taken over,’ she said.

Sandra Hunt, 67, has lived in the area for 36 years, but has never seen things as bad as they are today.

‘It looks like something from a zombie apocalypse,’ she said.

‘Sometimes it can be a bit scary, a bit barren. It’s quite depressing, especially with what it used to be like. We used to have loads of people here.’

The closed Waitrose car park has now been made free for visitors to try and reverse the economic malaise, but to no avail.

WATERLOOVILLE: Dennis Rogers, 79, moved to the area 14 years ago, but is dismayed at the increasing number of empty shopfronts

WATERLOOVILLE: Dennis Rogers, 79, moved to the area 14 years ago, but is dismayed at the increasing number of empty shopfronts

WATERLOOVILLE: Two dilapidated store fronts in Waterlooville

WATERLOOVILLE: Two dilapidated store fronts in Waterlooville

‘That’s now free and it’s always full, but I don’t know where everybody goes because the high street isn’t busy,’ she added.

Mrs Hunt said footfall has been ‘taken’ by a retail park the other side of a busy road – which boasts a TK Maxx, Marks & Spencer, Matalan, Sainsbury’s and Home Bargains.

‘It’s very busy over there,’ she added, ‘but it’s taken away from the actual town centre because it’s so poor here.

‘If it were better here they would shop here.’

Mrs Hunt admitted she was one of the many to look elsewhere for high street satisfaction, as the touch typist often travels to nearby Havant for a mooch, rather than her hometown.

‘I was coming up here all the time because I live within walking distance,’ she continued. Now I get in the car and go to Havant, the retail park is too busy.’

Her daughter, 43 year old Lisa Bennett, has moved to nearby Havant, but isn’t impressed with how Waterlooville has changed since her childhood.

‘It’s been like this for a long time,’ she said. ‘The council are trying to get a scheme to get more businesses in here, but nothing’s happened.

‘It’s just sad, especially as there is so much more housing being built.

Mike Holmes, 38, moved into a new build estate five years ago and thinks the deteriorating high street is ‘terrible’.

The father of two said: ‘It’s shocking. The high street is just terrible, it’s ridiculous, just coffee shops and charity shops.

‘There’s no reason to come here – it’s awful look at the state of it.’ 

The 'barren' high street has maintained its Wetherspoons , but many locals are growing tired of only having the choice of a charity shop or cafe - as they travel to nearby towns by car

The ‘barren’ high street has maintained its Wetherspoons , but many locals are growing tired of only having the choice of a charity shop or cafe – as they travel to nearby towns by car

Empty shop fronts at Wellington Way Shopping Centre just off Waterlooville High Street

Empty shop fronts at Wellington Way Shopping Centre just off Waterlooville High Street

BANBURY: Christopher Chandler, 59, is pictured in his shop on the high street

BANBURY: Christopher Chandler, 59, is pictured in his shop on the high street 

BANBURY: Barbara Czarkowska is pictured with her dog on the high street in Banbury

BANBURY: Barbara Czarkowska is pictured with her dog on the high street in Banbury 

BANBURY: Dion Barrie, 27, comments on the high street falling apart in Banbury

BANBURY: Dion Barrie, 27, comments on the high street falling apart in Banbury 

BANBURY: Kate Malzack, 24, comments on her high street shops falling into hard times

BANBURY: Kate Malzack, 24, comments on her high street shops falling into hard times

Mr Holmes, who recognised the irony as he was on his way to the retail park, said he was particularly worried about what facilities would be made available to his sons when they grow up.

‘It worries me,’ he continued. ‘You worry about the sustainability if they don’t spend some money.’

He said there had been reports of vandalism at a boarded up store. ‘They’ve tried to address that with the skate park,’ he added.

‘But there’s nothing to do around here, everyone was young once. I worry about the boys and how I’m going to keep them away from that.

‘Every high street in Britain is falling apart, but this one seems particularly bad.’

Dennis Rogers, 79, moved to the area 14 years ago, but is dismayed at the increasing number of empty shopfronts.

‘I come here all of the time,’ the retired carpenter said. ‘It’s just sad – all we have are charity shops and no clothes shops.

‘This used to be a thriving high street.’



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