Community group aims to breathe new life into Chippenham town centre

September 11, 2012

A team of enthusiastic volunteers are making good ground in ensuring that Chippenham becomes a vibrant and socially successful town again.

Cherish Chippenham, a Community Interest Company (CIC), is made up of a wide variety of business owners, independent and national retailers, developers, community support groups, members of the public, and the town and county councils, along with the Wessex Chamber of Commerce; all with a common goal – to improve and regenerate Chippenham town centre.

Cherish Chippenham was borne out of the team that developed the initial bid for the first round of the Portas Pilot – the regeneration fund set up by local government minister Grant Shapps in conjunction with retail expert and TV presenter Mary Portas.

Despite being unsuccessful in both rounds of the competition, the team has been undeterred from the task of breathing new life into Chippenham town centre by taking a project-by-project approach. As a result some major successes have already chalked up.

In July 15,000 people attended the Cherish Chippenham launch, pictured above and below, which showcased the town through music and art, displays from local clubs, groups and schools, artisan market stalls and local company stands.

The event was organised by Ben Gregory of Chippenham-based DigiPrint, who looks after marketing and communications for Cherish Chippenham.

Ben said: “Putting on this event has shown what can be achieved in a short period of time – four weeks – with a team of willing volunteers. Importantly the event was in the main square bringing about a major uplift in the numbers of people coming into the town centre and seeing what is on offer from shops and business.

"Following on from the success of the launch day, we are already planning next year's event on Bank Holiday Monday May 6.”

The next Cherish Chippenham project is to open a community café. The town centre, like many market towns across the country, has a number of empty shop units, with a recently-vacated unit still fitted out as a café.

Working with the owners and leaseholder, the Cherish Chippenham team aim to re-open the café, providing a meeting space for youth and other groups with no ‘home’ or poorly-serviced facilities.

The café will be run as a social enterprise providing local people with the opportunity to help run it and sell their wares. Melody Thompson, director of 24-7 Staffing and chair of Cherish Chippenham, is helping to manage the project together with Ed Deedigan from Kandu Arts, another professional board member.

Ms Thompson said: “The café is in the main square and re-opening it will ensure that footfall is maintained in area supporting the existing shops and businesses.

"Being able to provide opportunities for local start-up businesses is a key objective for Cherish Chippenham. The community café is an excellent platform providing an outlet for local people who want to work in the catering industry as well as providing facilities and space for local groups to meet."

It is hoped to open the café in November. Anyone interested can get in touch via the Cherish Chippenham Facebook page/website.

The group has also secured funding in principal for the new role of town centre manager and plans to introduce a Business Improvement District (BID) to Chippenham.

For further information on Cherish Chippenham go to

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