On the road to nowhere...

Some of the many empty properties in Lytham Road, South Shore. Below: Paul Shaw, Philip Hayman and Coun Graham Cain.
Some of the many empty properties in Lytham Road, South Shore. Below: Paul Shaw, Philip Hayman and Coun Graham Cain.
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It is just a short walk away from the hubbub of Blackpool FC’s multi-million pound Bloomfield Road ground...but it might as well be a million miles away.

For the dwindling band of traders along the resort’s once thriving Lytham Road, colourful banks of shops and heavy footfall have been replaced by a tide of signs advertising businesses for sale and to let.

Some of the many empty properties in Lytham Road, South Shore.

Some of the many empty properties in Lytham Road, South Shore.

Today many long-standing traders on the road insist this has been the worst year for sales yet, after a continual downturn over recent years.

Many say they lost hope of the street improving after the Lonsdale Road coach park – once guaranteed to bring a hive of holidaymakers looking for a bargain – was moved to Central car park in 2011.

And they want the council, which has invested a lot of money into the Promenade, to start concentrating on them.

There are currently more than 25 units for sale or to let on the street, according to local estate agents.

Paul Shaw, owner of The Music Market Outlet, on Lytham Road, South Shore

Paul Shaw, owner of The Music Market Outlet, on Lytham Road, South Shore

Paul Shaw, runs printing shop The Music Market Outlet, and has traded on Lytham Road for 15 years.

He said: “I can’t rely on street trade as much as I used to. I have schools and dance groups I do work for because this street is terrible.

“I’ve had some good years here but this (lack of business) has got something to do with the coach park on Lonsdale Road being moved because I used to get a massive surge of business from that.

“Some people have been paying £30 a week for rent but they can’t even afford that.

Philip Hayman, owner of Rockbottom, Lytham Road, South Shore

Philip Hayman, owner of Rockbottom, Lytham Road, South Shore

“That shows what kind of strength the road has and I do find it annoying when the council can spend plenty of money on the Promenade but nothing on the traders here.”

Mr Shaw says poor street trade has forced him to consider his position on the street and he does not see himself staying for another year if business does not pick up, despite being offered subsidised business rates from Blackpool Council for the past three years.

He added: “I wouldn’t say street trade is non-existent but every year has got worse and that’s why I don’t think I can survive.

“The council must know trade is not what it should be because they gave us a rate relief down from £700 to £50.”

Coun Graham Cain

Coun Graham Cain

Philip Hayman, owner of Rockbottom sweet shop, said: “When I came here 15 years ago it was because the street was buzzing but there’s nothing here to attract people.

“This was always the second biggest road in the town and now there’s nothing bringing people here.”

“When I came here every shop was full, bright and attractive.

“But there’s now a car parking sign next to my shop and everyone turns off and nobody comes past. There’s no footfall because they all go down Lonsdale Road.”

Brian Tomlins, manager of Sports Fair has traded on the street for 30 years and says it is the worst he has seen it.

He added: “We’ve been down on sales every year for the last seven years.

“The only reason we are here is because we own the property.

“If we had to rent anywhere we wouldn’t be open. The Promenade is good for Blackpool and this used to be one of the busiest roads, but not anymore. We used to be open until midnight during the Switch-On but we were shut at 5pm and I don’t even open in the winter.”

Jill Lloyd, part-owner of Budget Gifts, added: “It’s sad for me to see Lytham Road like this having been here for 10 years.

“The council has spent too much money on the Promenade and nothing down here, so we are getting no business. It used to be a very busy street which is why we bought this shop. We used to come up here on holiday from the Midlands and it was always busy.

“There are a lot of buildings that are neglected and since they moved the coach park there has not been as many people coming on to the street.”

A spokesman for Kays Commercial Estate Agents said they were in charge of letting 10 properties from Manchester Square to the junction of Clarendon Road.

They ranged in price from £60 a week in rent for shops and £135 a week for a 10-bedroom hotel.

Kenricks Estate Agents has a number of former businesses on its books.

It currently looks after six buildings independently while nine are on the market with their partner agencies.

THE COUNCIL’S RESPONSE

Bloomfield ward councillors John Jones and Graham Cain today say money IS being spent in the area.

A joint statement said: “Blackpool Council is making a huge investment in the regeneration of this area of South Shore in the form of the Rigby Road housing development scheme.

“This will create 400 new homes over the next few years increasing the numbers of residents living in the area and significantly upgrading the housing offer.

“Business-wise, as well as offering individual business support through a number of channels, Blackpool Council organises the Blackpool Community Car Boot Sale, which is supported by the South Shore Business Forum and runs on the third Sunday of every month, giving local businesses an extra opportunity to have a presence in the area.

“We are also reviewing parking provision and how that can better support business and looking at other events that may help.

“With regards to property being available for let, this is an issue that is a concern. However, we are doing everything we can to drive up housing and property standards through our Selective Licensing scheme in South Beach which should, in time, help to increase the attractiveness of property in the area.”

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