A MAYOR has called on residents to get behind plans to transform a former department store and support local businesses and producers.

Mayor of Kendal Councillor Douglas Rathbone said plans to convert the town’s former Beales store in Finkle Street into a space for Cumbrian retailers and food producers presented a ‘great’ opportunity for the town - but that for it to thrive people need to support the scheme by shopping there.

READ MORE: Plans revealed for transformation of former department store

“I think it’s a great opportunity to rebuild that part of the town,” he said.

“It seems to be a good offering, small local businesses, a mix of food and small producers and all with a pride in Cumbria and Kendal.

“There have been various proposals for the site and this one not only seems to be helping bring the town to life but also helping those smaller businesses and producers.

“I think it all comes down to how much local people want to use that sort of offering.

“I want to use it and I would thoroughly recommend it to the town because we need to support local retailers and producers.

“We’re in difficult times and anything we can do to support it is great.

“People complain when things shut but things shut because they’re not used enough.

“We need to remind ourselves after lockdown that getting things delivered to your door from the internet is not the way forward, supporting local business is the way forward.”

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Councillor Jonathan Brook, leader of South Lakeland District Council (SLDC), said the council was looking to work with others to see more plans put forward to develop Kendal’s town centre.

 “The former Beales store is a significant building and it is pleasing to see plans such as this coming forward for redevelopment in the heart of Kendal,” he said.

“SLDC has a vision for the town centre and we are looking to work with others, such as Kendal Futures and the BID to see a renewed focus on high-quality public realm, innovative retail, creative businesses and new town centre accommodation, all contributing to a renewed and vibrant town centre.”

MP Tim Farron said he was 'really excited' about the plans.

“I’m really excited by the plans for the old Beales building," he said.

“It’s such a big space in the centre of town so I’m glad it won’t be stood empty for much longer and that soon it will be brimming full of life!”