There may be a few empty shops in the county town, but they won’t be empty for long – says Dorchester BID.

In recent months, the Echo has reported on the closure of a number of shops in Dorchester’s high street, including Thorntons, H.Samuel and Next.

The branch of Santander bank is also set to close.

However, despite businesses shutting, Phil Gordon, project director of Dorchester BID, remains confident that the town’s high street has a bright future.

He said: “The high street has and can have a very exciting future, but it’s got to adapt to now, the offering has to change. We need more ‘destination businesses’; museums are a great example of this."

Mr Gordon said the town greatly benefited from the arrival of Dippy (the iconic Diplodocus cast) last year, which caused what he called The Dippy Effect on other businesses in the town.

He said: “The footfall for the museum for the year is typically something like 50,000 visitors. However, there was around 150,000 visitors for the three months Dippy was here.

“There wasn’t a single shop or business that wasn’t affected in some way with a lot of people visiting the town,” added Neil Strudwick, Chairman of Dorchester BID.

Mr Gordon says not all shops fit Dorchester's high street model, and that it is the town's boutiques and customer service which draws people in.

He explained how specialist shops are key to its success; these offer products customers can see and feel before they buy.

Dorchester BID is always keen to engage with businesses and hear their ideas for events which could drive more people to the town.

Mr Gordon said: "Our BID board is made up of volunteers from individual business owners who are focused on Dorchester first and their businesses second. A good BID in my view is one that thinks of ideas that will help support business in town. If you have a town without a BID you don't get as much out-of-the-box thinking from the council.

"The majority of BID projects come about from discussions and dialogue with businesses wanting to engage with the BID. The more things the BID can do to provide a safety net and support network the better."

Mr Strudwick added: "We are all business owners, but we give our free time to this. We want the best for the town and the more people who come into the town the better it is for business. We've been coming together as a group to see how we can enhance that."

75 new businesses opened since 2015

According to Mr Gordon, a total of 75 new businesses have opened in Dorchester since 2015.

Among the new arrivals is Cathie's cafe which replaced Baby Birds on South Street and opened in December.

Cathie Bourne, the shop’s owner, said: “It’s going really well, I’m pleased at the moment. There has been a lot of good feedback from customers.

“I came to Dorchester because it’s the county town, my children were born here, and I lived here for years.

“It’s a very friendly place and there’s very much a community feel. The BID has been excellent, and the neighbours are great. We’ve had people from the church opposite come and support us by helping to spread the word."

Meanwhile, Anthony Buckton recently opened Copper Street Brewery which is opposite Dorchester South train station.

He said: “A lot of people have been coming in from Weymouth and other areas off the train."

Speaking about the BID he said: “They’ve been very helpful and have put us in the right direction. They’ve got a lot to offer in terms of bringing retail units together and working together. If everyone is working in the same direction it benefits everyone.”