SHOP owners in Colomberie say they feel ‘forgotten about’ and have called for more to be done to promote the area – almost 20 years after St Helier’s Constable warned that it could become the ‘Cinderella’ street of town.
During a tour of the shops with the then Transport Minister Guy de Faye in March 2006, Simon Crowcroft called for a range of measures to encourage people to the area.
Several years later, he set out a vision for the street to become a Brighton Lanes-style district packed with quirky shops and ‘funky’ restaurants.
But speaking to the JEP this week, some retailers said the area was still being neglected and that not enough was being done to highlight what was on offer.
Sharon Cathcart and Yvonne Harrison, co-owners of clothes shop Fabulous Jersey, called for better signposting in town to direct shoppers to Colomberie.
‘The area is not promoted enough,’ said Ms Harrison.
‘There is no signposting in the area, unlike the area in Snow Hill. We do feel a bit forgotten about.’
She added that if their shop moved closer to the centre of town, the price of renting would be ‘three or four’ more times expensive than in Colomberie.
Ms Cathcart said that displays of artwork and regular street festivals could help to rejuvenate the area.
She added that Colomberie represented a ‘lovely community’ that needed ‘more support’ from government.
Damian MacCormack, owner of Music Scene Record Shop, said Colomberie had become a ‘forgotten area’, and that all the businesses outside his store had closed.
He added: ‘In the three years I’ve been here, it was a little bad, and it’s got really bad now.
‘Saturdays used to be my main day. But last Saturday it wasn’t worth me opening. I did about £150.’
The problems faced by retailers are demonstrated by the number of empty units along the street.
Marcia Alker, owner of Fancy Dress Box, said: ‘It’s a forgotten part of town.
‘If we have a full street of shops it would be encouraging for people to visit, rather than people just visiting the main high street in St Helier.’
Ms Alker added that it would be helpful for business in the area if signposts in town pointed Islanders in the direction of Colomberie.
‘Business owners have had regular meetings with the town centre manager, and food vans have been suggested. I don’t think food vans would want to come up here, they wouldn’t make enough money,’ said Ms Alker.
WeFix Mobiles stated that they were fortunate as customers visited them for the unique service they provided, but that parking in the area was an issue.
Speaking this week, Mr Crowcroft reignited his ambition to develop Colomberie into a ‘shopping village’ which could become the ‘Lanes of St Helier’.
Mr Crowcroft confirmed that the road and pedestrian area at Colomberie was controlled by the government.
He said that Colomberie had not been forgotten about, and added that a lack of government willingness to invest in the area had been a problem in the past.
The long-standing St Helier Constable said that he intended to meet Colomberie business traders to discuss investment opportunities for the area.
He said: ‘I haven’t yet met with Colomberie traders, but the government has said there is now money available for it [town improvements].
‘We have a historic problem with visitors to St Helier. Tourists don’t know that, beyond Snow Hill, there’s a whole mixture of local shops.’
Town centre manager Connor Burgher shared shop owners’ concerns that Colomberie felt separated from the high street.
‘Colomberie is disconnected from the town centre, merely because of its geographical location,’ he said.
However, Mr Burgher added that it was possible for pedestrian shopping streets to feel part of the town centre, giving London’s Carnaby Street as an example. It is still considered part ‘of the main drag’ and it is well signposted, he said.
Mr Burgher also agreed that food vans and outdoor seating could help boost Colomberie.
‘It’s not a secret that I’m a fan of alfresco dining,’ he added.