Customers at both the Banbury Gateway Shopping Park and the MK1 Shopping Park in Milton Keynes will be able to charge their phones using smart benches.

The Crown Estate has rolled out smart benches at two of its Lifestyle retail parks – one of 14 retail parks managed by the company. The benches are designed by Strawberry Energy and can charge Android, iPhones and other devices with USB connections.

The benches use solar energy to power the USB-connected devices, rather than electricity, resulting in cleaner energy use within the communities. They can fully charge a smartphone battery in the same time it would take using a plug in the mains and customers can spend 10 minutes to give their phones a boost while they are shopping.

The benches can also track air quality and noise levels in the surrounding area around the shopping parks.

Jo Francis, head of retail property management for The Crown Estate  an independent commercial business whose profits are returned to the Treasury – said: "The Crown Estate is delighted to partner with Strawberry Energy to install these multi-functional smart benches across our retail schemes, as we continually strive to improve our shopping environments and respond to our consumers’ ever changing technology needs."

The green street furniture launched in Canary Wharf in October 2015 and recently won the 'Connecting people and Creating Communities’ competition, organised by the Institute for Sustainability in partnership with the Mayor of London’s Office and supported by EIT Digital.

Miloš Milisavljević, CEO and founder of Strawberry energy, added: "The appeal of mobile phones and the internet has changed peoples' shopping habits, influencing their decisions and how they spend time in store. By responding to these changing digital needs, new technologies have the power to create a more enjoyable experience. We are glad that The Crown Estate shares the same vision and hope that we will jointly continue enhancing shoppers’ experiences in even more destinations across the UK."

Retailers at Banbury Gateway include Marks & Spencer, Fat Face, New Look, Next, Primark and River Island, while MK1 in Milton Keynes hosts the likes of H&M, Next, New Look, Marks & Spencer, Primark and River Island.

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