03:53PM, Thursday 21 December 2017
Volunteers at the Oxfam shop do not know if the shop will relocate.
‘Devastated’ charity shops based in The Colonnade are preparing to close their doors for the final time.
Demolition of the row of shops is due to begin in January and the site will be redeveloped by Shanly Homes.
The new development will be renamed Waterside Plaza and consist of 182 flats with 1,635 sq m of commercial and retail space.
The Oxfam shop will close its doors on Saturday and does not yet have a place to move to.
The shop has been at its current location since 1988 and before that was based at 1 The Colonnade for a few years.
Liz Bowman is one of 35 volunteers at the shop and has been working for Oxfam for more than 30 years.
She said: “It is with great sadness that we will close the doors for the last time and we would like to thank all the donors, customers and volunteers.
“We are all absolutely devastated, it is a disgrace that it is allowed to happen.
“It is an architecturally interesting building and a lot of the customers are disappointed it is happening.”
A few doors down the Relate charity shop is also getting ready to close with no plans to
Retired NHS midwife Chris Gill has worked at the shop since 2014 and her dog Gracie is a familiar face to regulars.
The shop manager said: “I was walking past one day and happened to see some Russian pottery, which I collect. Next to it was a sign saying volunteers needed.”
Chris decided to work at the charity shop and was delighted when Fiona Greenfield, the centre director, said Gracie could come along too.
Relate Mid Thames and Buckinghamshire has had the shop for four years to raise money for the bursary funding scheme – which enables people to access high quality, professional relationship counselling.
Fiona said: “It has become a real community hub where everyone can call in and it’s such a shame that there isn’t a way that very low-rent shops can be provided without having to rely on the goodwill of developers, which means charity shops can have a very uncertain, short-term future.”
The shop’s last day will be on January 5 and the following day all the businesses in the Colonnade will have to move out.
Independent Mexican restaurant Poco Loco will have its final day at The Colonnade on Christmas Eve.
It has been based in the row of shops for about three years and its owners hope to stay in the town, with a lease currently being negotiated elsewhere. A spokesman for Poco Loco said: “It is a shame that such a nice building is being knocked down. The Colonnade has been there for a long time and it looks very nice.”
Also affected is the Brett Foundation, which stores white goods and other items at a unit in The Colonnade and will need to leave by Thursday, December 28.
These are given to families when they move into a new home.
The homelessness charity, which is also looking for a new facility as the terms of the lease in its King Street unit are due to change next year, will need a large space to store the items.
Founder Sue Brett asked anyone with available space, which must be watertight and rat-free, to contact the foundation. Email firstname.lastname@example.org if you can help.
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