Vacant shops claim 'defies all logic'
BUSINESS leaders have called for a long-term solution to filling Nottingham's empty shops.
Jeff Allen, chairman of the Nottingham Business Improvement District and owner of Castle Sound & Vision, in Maid Marian Way, said: "With the boom days of the high street long gone, we need to see more realistic rents to help make sure businesses are viable, more creative planning, and, more importantly, ensure that the city centre is somewhere that people want to visit, spend time in and return to again and again."
Neil Fincham, centre manager of The Exchange, dismissed the LDC's figures, saying: "Common sense tells you in no way, when you look around the city centre, are a quarter of stores empty.
"It defies all logic."
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Mr Fincham cited two additions to The Exchange in the past six months. Patisserie Valerie moved into the former Country Casuals store last August. The unit had been vacant for around 20 months. And footwear brand Dr Martens opened a new store in December, replacing Kookai, which closed 18 months ago.
The city council launched a plan in November to cut the number of vacant shops by two-thirds. At the time, there were 199 vacant shop units in the city centre – nearly 17 per cent of the total retail space.
It set up a task force to assess every empty shop in the city and spent £100,000 of Government money to bring them up to scratch and encourage tenancy.
Latest figures supplied to Nottingham BID by Springboard – which monitors visitor numbers with pedestrian counters across the country – show 0.3 per cent fewer people visited Nottingham in January 2012-January 2013, than in January 2011-January 2012, compared to an average drop of around 2.3 per cent for regional cities outside of London.