Better use of empty shops is needed

First published in Our View by

Bradford city centre’s empty shop units are a long-running cause for concern.

Nothing puts potential shoppers off coming into the centre like abandoned shops and large for sale or to let signs, and what is worse they hardly make the city centre an attractive proposition to traders who might be interested in relocating or opening up in Bradford, creating a vicious circle of decline.

But that is not to say absolutely any tenant is always better than no tenant at all. At the T&A we have already campaigned vociferously against the proliferation of betting shops in highly visible city centre locations, arguing that they do not encourage shoppers or passing trade.

The latest proposals to fill an empty unit in the city centre is equally unpalatable as a betting shop. The Money Shop group wants to open a Robert Biggar Pawnbroking store in a prime city centre location near Kirkgate.

Whatever the ethics and rights and wrongs of the short-term loan industry in which the Money Shop operates, they are a legal financial service provider and as such are entitled to have bricks-and-mortar branches.

But just as there is a place for betting shops and amusement arcades, so there is a place for pawnbrokers and payday loan lenders. And that place is not in the best city centre locations.

Those who wish to use this type of business will seek it out regardless of its location. They are not the sort of shops that attract browsers or window shoppers, and have little value in boosting the overall retail landscape of Bradford. Surely better uses for Bradford’s empty shops can be found.

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