KENDALIANS can start to look forward to a new-look town centre, with a once-in-a-generation retail regeneration project gathering pace behind the scenes

Geraldine Ward, with her partner William Smith, has taken on the task of reviving the former Beales department store on Finkle Street, with a vision to introduce a locally-themed boutique shopping destination, a food hall, creative spaces, and modern town-centre residential and holiday accommodation.

The project is expected to take around three years to complete. but several planning applications for changes of use and structural conversions have already been submitted, with the first one approved, and Geraldine is confident that residents and visitors will soon see the fruits of a 'revived' part of town:

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"37 Finkle Street will be ready and available for a business to rent from November, and 39 Finkle Street will be ready at the end of the year, so a business can get up and running in that one in the new year. 

"This improvement to Finkle Street is already quite big news and we have had a lot of interest from businesses who realise what a good shopping street this actually is. 

"We are now hoping that between the Council, Kendal Futures, Kendal BID, and the shopkeepers of Finkle Street, we can see some improvements to come in the street itself which is in need of cleaning and repairs from top to bottom.

"On the planning front, we are probably three months behind schedule now, due to the refusal of original planning applications but work is still moving on nicely inside, and we are communicating more closely with the planners, to ensure we are all on the same chart for the success of reviving this part of Kendal.

"We have now re-submitted an altered set of plans for the four residential flats to let on the first and second floors of 37-39 Finkle Street. The town is in much need of rental accommodation and the space above shops is an obvious solution. 

"We are a bit perplexed why Kendal doesn't have as much of this type of development as other areas and town centres. 

"Very soon we are also re-submitting the application for the conversion of the back of 37-39 Finkle Street into three cottage-style residential lettings.

"We hope the compromises we have had to make to secure planning permission and provide these much-needed letting spaces in the town will be accepted."