‘Cross pollination’: Is this the key to solving Norfolk’s retail woes?

Oliver and Charlotte Gurney at White House Farm. Photo: Bill Smith for EDP Norfolk

Oliver and Charlotte Gurney at White House Farm. Photo: Bill Smith for EDP Norfolk - Credit: Archant © 2013

An independent Norfolk business owner has called for greater unity on the high street to turn the tide on the crumbling retail outlook.

Charlotte Gurney is the co-owner of Future 50 2019 business White House Farm, with her husband Oliver.

The pair operate a working farm on the site just outside Norwich, as well as running a farm shop and hosting eight other small businesses.

MORE: Meet the Future 50 2019 businesses - but with a twist"We've been fortunate because there's a lot of cross pollination in footfall on the site. We've got a mixture of services like a hairdresser and beautician but also retail like a gift shop and the farm shop," she said.

"As a mum with two small children going into Norwich can be a nightmare. It's difficult and expensive to park and you can't get through a door without banging into someone else."

She continued: "It's got a lot more difficult to go into Norwich and get everything you need in one place because places are constantly shutting and the next closest is on the other side of the city centre."

Mrs Gurney does her upmost to ensure that food miles are kept to a minimum and that waste in her farm shop is also eradicated as much as it can be.

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"Every cup of coffee we sell has milk from a dairy farm five miles away. All of our produce is from a family-run greengrocer in Norfolk, and I think our customers like seeing farmers supporting other farming families in this way," she said.

Also on the site in Rackheath is a nursery, butchers, a dance studio, a clothes shop and an IT specialist.

"I believe we've been so lucky and have kept growing and being busy because of the sense of community these businesses have created," Mrs Gurney said.

"People can come in and park for free and pick up the card they need or some fresh strawberries. You don't get that, I don't believe, in somewhere like Lidl."