The Empty Shops Of Regent Street

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  • #53621

    Rob
    Participant

    We have had a walk down Regent St and have documented the empty shops in a 300m section of the heart of the town.

    The Empty Shops Of Regent Street | Wrexham.com

    As the photo-feature bit says at the bottom we are interested to hear from the community :

    • Why you think there are so many empty shops
    • If you think the town centre is now ‘split’
    • What you would do to encourage rejuvenation of the town centre
    #56428

    Jonesy
    Participant

    Some thoughts…..

    Obviously a huge factor in the number of empty shops is the underlying economic situation, retail spend is down and probably more so in towns like Wrexham where many people have job worries. You could also argue though that the previous retail boom/growth was in the large funded by credit, so of course people when times are tight are going to borrow less and try and save or pay off previous debts. Town is quiet in general from recent experience.

    The big empty shops are due to the fact that some of the big high street names moved to Eagles meadow (M&S, boots) and some going bankrupt (Woolworths, Game, peacocks etc)

    Yes – eagles meadow has split the town, though it has “happened” now and I think whatever the development in that location looked like it would have had the same effect. The main streets of Wrexham (other than High St) does not flow naturally to EM. Also it doesn’t help the stuff at Island Green and by Tesco. The old main part of town is surrounded by retails park with their own car parks, so often people go to those, shop and leave. Also not helped by some high parking charges or silly bugger parking tickets….

    I’ve said this a few times but a far better development for Wrexham would have been the planned precinct in the big space where BHS et al are now, sadly it didn’t happen and the opportunity has long gone.

    A 8 point plan (obviously most of the below requires funding etc which is prob not available at the LA level)

    1.)Have a look at business rates. Reduced rates for new shops/businesses – maybe who commit to opening for a least 12/24 months. Where shops are council owned then do same with rents. Try and have some influence on private landlords to lower commercial rents. Deal with landlords who purposely leave shops empty (I believe the council has compulsory purchase rights in some circumstances)

    2.)In addition to the above encourage pop up shops (different from discount retailers!) who sell clothes, food, anything – these seem to be popular down South and if something is a success then today’s pop up shop might be the permanent one of the future

    3.)County planning department to seriously look at planning applications for new shops – Wrexham has enough discount and pound retailers. I know there could be a school of thought that anything is better than an empty shop, but high streets full of these (can names many such places) are not attractive places to shop and discourage other types of retailers.

    4.)Be proactive – identify what shops people want and then target said companies. Try and tap up funds from Cardiff or Westminster to help with this (and all of the above). Caution needed as seen with factories, it is all too easy for them to take WDA grants for 10yrs then close the day after they end.

    5.)Better public transport – especially evening and weekends.

    6.)Events to bring people into town (what though?) – as the Jubilee and torch stuff has shown, people will come to events! The busiest town has been in many weeks is 7:45 on the day the torch came through and cafes and pubs which opened did well.

    7.)Think about the night-time economy – is town generally attractive on an evening if you are looking for a quieter drink or good meal? Some more central options would be nice!

    8.)Keep on top of simple things like regular litter picking/maintenance etc to keep Wrexham attractive – clamp down on littering, if people used the bins better for all and saves a hell of a lot of cash (rant over…)

    #56436

    BWB
    Participant

    @Jonesy 1181 wrote:

    1.)Have a look at business rates. Reduced rates for new shops/businesses – maybe who commit to opening for a least 12/24 months. Where shops are council owned then do same with rents. Try and have some influence on private landlords to lower commercial rents. Deal with landlords who purposely leave shops empty (I believe the council has compulsory purchase rights in some circumstances)

    I am not sure how much control the council have over being able to reduce rates for ratepayers. A % reduction due to lots of empty shops being in the surrounding area can be given, but this has to come from the local valuation office -or by someone appealing their rates due to this change (which can take up to 2 years!). In much the same way % reductions can be given for the effect of roadworks on a property.

    The loss of trade of the street will be primarily due to lack of footfall as people are driven to the other end of town. I agree that the business rates should be looked at, along side rent its one of the biggest expenses for many companies, but how this can be done I am not 100% sure of. I could certainly look into it if people were interested.

    Unfortunately current rates are based on the value of properties in 2008 and most will be incorrect by now. The next time they will be looked in full is probably next year, so that information can be collated and rates can be set for the new rating list in 2015. It is ludicrous that rates for 2015 are going to be set on properties values in 2013, likewise its ludicrous that rates for 2010 were based on 2008 values but that’s the way the system works I’m afraid!

    #56416

    wrexview
    Participant

    Some towns allow artwork to be displayed in empty shop windows which improves the street scene for other shops still trading.Recently there have been a number of new shops opening in the town, unfortunately not on Regent Street. When you travel to other parts of the country it soon becomes evident that Wrexham is doing well for the percentage of shops occupied.We need to appreciate what we have and sell it well , success breeds success!!

    #56429

    Jonesy
    Participant

    @wrexview 1183 wrote:

    We need to appreciate what we have and sell it well , success breeds success!!

    What message should the Council and the town use? What do people think? I think certainly in the past there has been the wrong message/selling of the town – almost focussed on “Why go to Chester – Wrexham has all you need!”

    In the real world people are always going to go to their nearest “bigger/brighter” place. The focus on selling Wrexham should be on a good, useful town that is easy to shop etc – to make people realise that there is more to town, specialist shops/places and somewhere pleasant to have food and a coffee. If someone comes to the bank and then has a drink and decides to look around the shops that is half the battle. They have their place, but loads of discount type shops does not make an attractive destination either for locals or visitors.

    As an aside I don’t think Chester is all that as a place to shop! (They are of course boosted by tourist footfall)

    #56431

    justjojo2011
    Participant

    As Jonesey already said, the biggest problem Wrexham has, as does the rest of the country, probably even the rest of the civilised world, is the current recession we are in. This makes it difficult for businesses to keep going to open shops up. Smaller independent businesses are being pushed out of business by larger corporations expanding into other areas to try and keep afloat.

    However, I don’t think Wrexham will ever be as special as it used to be until the people of the town start to care. Many residents wish things hadn’t been changed. Old tudor buildings have been torn down for what appears to be no reason other than public sector greed and most people dislike this and won’t shop here for that reason but if people did STAY in Wrexham, maybe things would improve. I firmly believe that the people of Wrexham should be boosting the economy of Wrexham, not Chester, Shrewsbury, Manchester, Liverpool etc. This is our town and we need to make people want to come here. I have spoken to people from other parts of the country who have such a dim outlook on Wrexham, more specifically the people.

    Wrexham has a reputation to the rest of the North as the place of pubs, pound shops and charity shops. No one is going to come here and bring tourism until that reputation goes away and that’s not going to happen whilst the same types of shops keep coming to the town.

    Eagles Meadow, yeah it’s bloody ugly and it’s downright awful on a windy day but I don’t feel it has seperated the town. If you live in Queens Park/Hightown side of town, there’s a bus stop right there outside and one the other side too. There is the new shoppa bus that will bring you from one end of town to Eagles Meadow so there is no reason for anyone to feel segregated away from the area. It amuses me because people will walk to Charles Street or to Tesco from the middle of town yet refuse to go to Eagles Meadow because it’s “too far” and yes, this is a reason I’ve heard from people who will walk to Tesco from the middle of town.

    A lot of things have happened in Wrexham over the last few years that I’m sure we would all agree, should never have happened. Eagles Meadow should never have been built. Just doing that ruined the “Monday Market” because not as many stalls could be built. Apparently, there is a waiting list of more than 40 stalls to attend the Monday Market, just not the room for it. It took shops from the middle of town to the centre, leaving empty shops, which I’m sure we all agree is never good. I for one think the Post Office should never have been moved.

    The trouble is, looking to what we used to have is never going to change anything. We have to accept what we do have. But before we get those shops filled, I think the people of Wrexham need to care more first. Show the rest of the country we’re proud of our town and it’s somewhere they would want to come. Shops don’t do that, people do.

    #56417

    wrexview
    Participant

    If there is a a list of 40 stalls waiting for a spot on the Monday market then it is obvious that we need to dedicate more space to it, either use the current Councillors car park adjacent to Queens Square or spread the market further through the town down the High Street.

    #56432

    justjojo2011
    Participant

    @wrexview 1187 wrote:

    If there is a a list of 40 stalls waiting for a spot on the Monday market then it is obvious that we need to dedicate more space to it, either use the current Councillors car park adjacent to Queens Square or spread the market further through the town down the High Street.

    I couldn’t agree more but apparently they are only allowed so many stalls or over a certain amount of space. It’s a shame because the Monday Market used to be as big as Mold Market (popularity wise not size wize)

    #56418

    wrexview
    Participant

    Is it a health and safety issue? Who makes the rules? Mold shut a main road to hold their market and use part of a car park. In these circumstances it is usually a case of if there is a will there is a way!

    #56433

    justjojo2011
    Participant

    @wrexview 1189 wrote:

    Is it a health and safety issue? Who makes the rules? Mold shut a main road to hold their market and use part of a car park. In these circumstances it is usually a case of if there is a will there is a way!

    From what I can gather from store holders, it’s down to the council who won’t allow more stalls. Apparently, there needs to be room for emergency vehicles. And now with the shoppa bus, there’s even less room on Queens Square. It would be nice to see it like a European Market, down all the streets of town but don’t think that’s ever going to happen

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