Hope for Lincoln’s vacant shops

Boarded up windows, locked doors and the shadows of estate agent’s advertising signs litter Lincoln’s streets

Retailers are closing down shops in Lincoln, with Raw, Ye Olde Crowne and Blue Salamander among the most recent closures over the past month.

The Waterside Centre, Lincoln’s largest shopping centre, has almost a quarter of its available retail space vacant.

In a count conducted by Banks Long & Co commercial surveyors at the beginning of May, 15% of retail space was vacant in the City Centre and St. Marks area.

James Butcher, Retail Surveyor at Banks Long & Co, said: “Despite recent closures, I believe that the Lincoln High Street is relatively strong at the moment.

“Many of the secondary areas, like the space near the market, is suffering, but this is part to do with the Lindongate plans.

“In the current climate, I am confident Lincoln will pull through.”

Richard Turner, Owner of Elliott’s Frames in the Waterside Centre, said: “All big shopping centres usually have vacant spots.

“I’ve been here for three and a half years and I am doing good. The rent rates are reasonable, but I think the centre could do better if it were made more attractive.

“With large retailers going into administration and all the job cuts, the vacancies are a sign of the times. Another problem is that, unlike other shopping centres, it doesn’t have parking facilities.

“I think if the centre offered money back on parking it would increase the number that come in.”

Plans to redevelop Waterside Shopping Centre will take place after the busy Christmas shopping period. They have been organised by Capital & Regional, who purchased the centre for £24.8 million.

Mick Lake, Operations manager at Lincoln Big, said: “Some of the vacant shops in our city centre are going due to large chains going into administration.

“At a local level we have little of no control over these factors which have affected towns and cities up and down the country. We are however, doing what we can to minimize the impact.

“An example would be the Gateway Project where we secured external funding to help one of the areas which was worst-affected and it is widely accepted that this project was a success.

“Another example, is the introduction of Thursday late-night shopping starting on July 7.

“We have also tried to ensure that Lincoln city centre remains a retail destination of choice both for visitors and those who live locally by ensuring it is bright, clean and welcoming, and by providing a wide range of on-street activities, floral displays and events which lends to a sense of bustle and vibrancy.

“Lincoln remains an attractive place for businesses to invest and in the past few weeks we have seen several new premises opening.

“Examples include Zizzi on the Brayford, Ticklefish on Bailgate, Coney’s on High Street, Maisie on Steep Hill, and Subs Station on Clasketgate.”