Published: April 11, 2022 | Updated: April 12, 2022

UK-first initiative aimed at breathing new life into town centre hailed a “resounding success”

Hope Dean, Owner, Wild Roots: “The support from the public has been sometimes overwhelming.”
By Andrew Diprose, editor

A retail initiative claimed to be the first of its kind in the UK and aimed at breathing new life into Poole town centre has been hailed as a “resounding success”.

Kingland marks its first anniversary today, April 12.

And while its signage, pictured left, continues to divide opinion – both for and against – the company behind the project says it’s confident Kingland will pave the way for future schemes across the country.

The ground-breaking development was brought together by the owners of the Dolphin Centre, Legal & General Investment Management Real Assets (LGIM).

It provided ten independent businesses with the opportunity to trade in the town centre, rent and business rates free for the first two years.

Since opening to the public after government restrictions ended on April 12, 2021, Legal & General say the businesses at Kingland have experienced multiple successes.

Hope Dean, owner of plant and homeware shop Wild Roots, has sold over 12,000 plants in store since opening.

She has employed five staff members in the past year to accommodate for the business’ rapid growth and has also launched a design service with Hope installing more than 200 plants to enhance office and commercial spaces.

She said: “The best thing about trading at Kingland is undoubtedly the community feel.

“We’re all in the same boat and are always sharing our successes and overcoming our worries together.

“The support from the public has been sometimes overwhelming because everyone has been so wonderful.

“I felt very positive when opening up Wild Roots, but never expected my business to grow as much as it has already in its first year.”

Another Kingland business is Pen Gallery, a non-profit space supporting local makers and artists.

Half of the unit is dedicated to selling products created by over 100 local makers, with the other half acting as a gallery for local artists to showcase their work.

Emma Rowland, Owner of Pen Gallery, pictured, said: “Being the first space of its kind in the area has really given us an edge to deliver something different.

“I would never have been able to open a shop or run a non-profit the way I do anywhere else.”

Classes and workshops also regularly take place at Pen Gallery, including ‘drink and draw’ sessions, craft workshops ranging from pottery to macrame, and gatherings for local creatives to network and share ideas.

Emma said: “Our events are so popular; people have such an appetite for what we put on.

“Our opening nights see over 100 people attend every time and most of our events sell out.

“I’m so proud that Pen Gallery has been able to financially support well over 100 artists since opening.

“I can’t wait to bring more shows, events, and get even more involved with creatives in our local community.”

Stephen Wyatt, owner of Restored Retro, said he had been able to pursue his dream career through the Kingland initiative.

His business specialises in reclaiming and restoring vintage furniture.

Restored Retro has sold over 300 pieces of furniture since opening, even collaborating with popular furniture restorer and TV presenter, Jay Blades.

Stephen, pictured,  said: “So many doors have opened for me in the past year, it really has been a dream come true.

“Running my own business in a shop was something I’d always thought about, but I was never able to obtain my own space until now.

“I’m always buying more and striving to find more items to restore.

“I’m so thankful for the support of the Kingland community, the public, and for people like Jay Blades who have all helped massively with my business.”

Further independent street food and market traders are due to open in Kingland Crescent.

Greg Westover, pictured left, Fund Head of Retail and Leisure at Legal & General, said: “Our investment towards enhancing Poole’s retail offering has been a resounding success and the Kingland initiative truly is testament to that.

“We have created a vibrant new high street with a fantastic community feel, enhancing footfall to the district and the Dolphin Centre, and have helped the dreams of some fantastic small business owners come true along the way.

“Kingland has been such a success in just a short amount of time, and we are confident that this will pave the way for future schemes across the UK – helping breathe life back into the high street and supporting local businesses.”

Other businesses at Kingland include Hux Customs, Ånd Fragrance, Greenslade Fish, Grounded Coffee, Viper Gin, Bare Necessities and Paintshop Studio & Gallery.