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Empty shop rates fall in Bradford
Bradford no longer ranks among the worst ten areas in the country for the number of empty shops, according to figures released today which show its vacancy rate has fallen to 21.6 per cent.
This time 12 months ago Bradford had the fifth highest shop vacancy rate of all large towns and cities in Great Britain at 26.8 per cent.
The news has been welcomed by deputy leader of Bradford Council Councillor Imran Hussain who made it clear that while the picture is improved, more still needs to be done.
He told the Telegraph & Argus: “This is very welcome news and, along with recent announcements regarding Westfield ’s commitment to Bradford, it shows that business confidence in the city centre is moving in the right direction.
“But the number of empty shops is still too high and we are not complacent about the fact that much more remains to be done, not least of which is the realisation of the long-awaited Broadway development.
“City centre regeneration continues to be one of our top priorities and we have to work to make sure that this positive movement is the start of an ongoing trend.”
Bradford came out better than other large centres such as Nottingham, Walsall and Stockport which had the highest vacancy rates at 30.6 per cent, 29.6 per cent and 28.4 per cent respectively.
The half-yearly study, compiled by the Local Data Company, reveals the national average vacancy rate for Great Britain was 14.6 per cent, which rose to 17.6 per cent in Yorkshire.
Bradford was joint fourth worst at the region alongside Rotherham, with Dewsbury (28.2 per cent), Grimsby (27.4 per cent), and Sheffield (26.1 per cent), faring worse.
At the other end of the table in Yorkshire, Pocklington was out in front with a 6.3 per cent vacancy rate, followed by Selby (6.9 per cent) and Harehills (7.3 per cent).
The report’s author LDC director Matthew Hopkinson said: “Fundamental national economic issues are being played out at a local level.
“An understanding of the impact of these changes, past and present, is the only way that concrete action can be taken to adapt to and plan for success.
“At worse it is about managing decline to enable alternative uses for a centre to take over and at best it is maintaining positive trends in the face of increasingly fierce competition and costs.
“Every town has the opportunity to attract consumers and spend. However, aspirations must be tempered with reality and reflect the needs and spend of each town’s consumer.”
The LDC surveyed 145,000 shops in 485 town centres, recording the occupancy status of premises when visited.
The Council’s latest figures – which solely relate to the defined city centre – indicate a shop vacancy rate of 16.32 per cent, down by slightly more than one percentage point since the beginning of the year. This is five points lower than the LDC’s figure.