Action plan agreed to cut number of empty shops in Nottingham
A TARGET has been agreed to reduce the number of empty shops in the city.
Councillors and members of the city's Business Improvement District, which is working to increase trade in the city centre, gave the green light to the figures at a council Executive Board City Centre Committee meeting.
As revealed in the Post this week, the aim is reduce the number of empty shops by a third by September 2013 and two-thirds by September 2014.
A task force has been set up to find tenants and offer grants to improve maintenance.
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More "pop-up shops", where people rent retail units for a short period of time to try out a new business idea, are also to be set up.
Residents are also being urged to support city independent shops this Christmas to ensure their survival.
Councillor Nick McDonald, Nottingham City Council's portfolio holder for jobs, skills and business, said: "The way we will make sure areas like Derby Road and Hockley survive and prosper is by people visiting them.
The council has £100,000 of Government cash available to invest in the city's empty shops and £10,000 is being spent on the pilot project in Derby Road, which has the third-highest number of empty shops in the city.
That project studied all 18 empty shops in the road earlier this year to identify where they are going wrong.
The cash will be spent on grants to carry out improvement work to bring shops up to scratch, and marketing and PR for the road.
They are also holding more events in the road – yesterday it held its own Christmas light switch-on with some shops offering discount.
But Mr Isbister warned that local businesses must play an active role for it to work across the city.
He said: "They need to get on board, join up and start talking together - and to not adopt a hostile position to the council but try and answer the issues together."
He explained that the Derby Road pilot project got off the ground after he and Jim Taylor, of Invest in Nottingham Club, invited the council to a meeting earlier this year to discuss how the road could be regenerated.
From that meeting the business-led Derby Road Regeneration Steering Group was established.
Mr Isbister now chair the group and plays an active role in how the £10,000 is spent.
Councillor Nick McDonald, the council's portfolio holder for jobs, skills and business, said that the council is not necessarily looking to roll out the Derby Road model everywhere in the city.
Mr McDonald said: "We have the same problem as anyone else, we're mid-table mediocrity in terms of our vacant rate but we want to do something about it."