114 empty Blackpool shop units

Pictures in and around the revamped Cedar Square and Church Street outside the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.'Wave sculpture and St John's Church. PIC BY ROB LOCK'Square re-named by persons unknown as St John's Square.

Pictures in and around the revamped Cedar Square and Church Street outside the Winter Gardens in Blackpool.'Wave sculpture and St John's Church. PIC BY ROB LOCK'Square re-named by persons unknown as St John's Square.

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Vacancy rates in Blackpool town centre are above the national average according to figures collated by business leaders in the town.

But town centre councillors say they remain optimistic the resort’s retail core is in good shape.

Figures revealed by the Blackpool Business Leadership Group in its November report show the main retail area, based around Houndshill, Victoria Street, Bank Hey Street, Church Street, Corporation Street and Adelaide Street West, has a vacancy rate of 12.3 per cent which is 20 units.

This rises to 15.7 per cent, or 73 units, for the wider area of Topping Street, Queen Street, Clifton Street, Birley Street, Market Street, Talbot Road, Abingdon Street and Cedar Square.

In the town centre as a whole, which includes the above streets plus the Promenade, Springfield Road, Dickson Road, King Street, Cookson Street, Caunce Street and the new Talbot Gateway area, there are 114 units out of 644 vacant, which is a rate of 17.7 per cent.

The national town centre vacancy rate in the UK was 9.1 per cent in October 2015, according to retail monitoring company Springboard.

Coun Mark Smith, cabinet member for business and economic development and councillor for Talbot ward which includes the town centre, said: “I would prefer it if there were no empty units but when I speak to people they do feel there is more confidence in Blackpool.

“I think Blackpool BID (Business Improvement District) has done a lot of good work in the town centre and we have seen a number of new restaurants coming in recently, including Mr Basrai’s opening in the Talbot Gateway.

“Our economic development team has also done a lot of work helping new small businesses and start-ups.

“But we do need to balance this with quality retail units and to help more businesses trade in Blackpool.”

Fellow Talbot ward councillor Ian Coleman added: “Every time we lose a unit I think Blackpool loses something.

“But I believe it is endemic through the country and it is a shame there are empty units.”