03:55PM, Friday 14 January 2022
Footfall in Windsor is increasing as the town starts the new year, with several new retailers set to start trading on the high street.
Councillors sitting on the Windsor Town Forum yesterday (Thursday) heard from town manager Paul Roach, who was equipped with facts and figures of the area's economic recovery post-COVID.
He said that from January to December 2021, a total of 5.7million people had visited Windsor - up 29 per cent on the year before.
A chart was shown to councillors showing that Windsor's footfall towards the end of 2020/21 was beginning to surpass the 2018/19 levels pre-COVID.
"This is significantly better than where we thought we might be," Mr Roach said. "Certainly for December, the return of live events has obviously had a bit of an impact on footfall."
Figures were also provided on the levels of people who had enjoyed Windsor's various festive events. A total of 8,000 people were at the town's Christmas lights switch-on, while 6,000 were at the Reindeer Parade.
But the biggest figure was reserved for Windsor on Ice, which attracted 49,000 visitors.
In terms of vacancy rates, the town has a percentage of 10 per cent, which Mr Roach confirmed was 'better than the national average'.
The town manager also confirmed that a selection of high street brands were hoping to open in Windsor over the coming months, including burger chain Five Guys, Bovingdon Estate Agents and Estetica, a private dental surgery.
Mr Roach told councillors that there were 'more to add to this list'.
Meeting chairman Councillor John Bowden (Con, Eton and Castle) asked whether there was any further information on the business futures of two buildings in Windsor.
Mr Roach said that the first, formerly known as Windsor Dials, in Arthur Street, will be taken over by the Intercontinental Hotel Group, based in Uxbridge.
"I have not got a specific date - I think they have just handed the building over but we know there is some activity," he added.
It is thought the new hotel will bring 600 jobs to the area.
The other building was Thames Court in Victoria Street, an office development which was approved back in June 2017.
Windsor Town Forum members heard that a technology firm called Intersystems would be setting up in here.
The company already has offices in both Windsor and Eton, and Mr Roach expected it to close the former and retain the latter.
"We are looking forward to them moving in properly," he said, adding it was 'positive news' that office workers would be returning to the town centre alongside the new hotel.
"They are the two sectors we have really struggled with for COVID - office workers and international businesses."