High Wycombe "has most empty shops in UK"

Castle Street

Three empty shops in Easton Street

The former Coffee Republic and another empty unit in White Hart Street

Three empty shops, including the former Dorothy Perkins, in Frogmoor

First published in News by

HIGH Wycombe has the highest rate of empty shops in the UK with about a quarter lying vacant, a property firm has said.

Empty units have rocketed from 9.5 per cent in October 2006 to 23.6 per cent two years later, research shows – the highest increase in the UK.

Retailers said the pull of the Eden shopping centre, which opened in March last year, high rents and rates and the recession had increased the number of empty units.

Property consultants Colliers CRE compared 15 towns and cities which represent a “cross-section” of the UK.

It found empty units rose by just 3.5 per cent nationally.

The survey said: “In October 2008, High Wycombe had the highest proportion of void units at 23.6 per cent.”

It said Eden had “had an adverse effect on overall vacancy levels”, a similar problem to hit Liverpool, which has the second highest empty shop rate at 21.7 per cent.

Yet it found the amount of empty floor space had fallen after jumping from 5.9 per cent to 16.8 per cent from October 2006 to April 2008.

This stood at 13.4 per cent last October, the latest figures available, the firm said.

This was likely to be because smaller units are becoming harder to fill, the firm said.

High Wycombe’s retail industry has been hit hard by the dual effects of Eden and the recession.

Empty units have sprung up throughout the town after major retailers including Dorothy Perkins, Vodaphone and the Sony Centre moved into Eden.

Traders in the eastern part of the town said trade had noticeably migrated to the complex, in the west.

In Easton Street three shops in a row are empty – a sore sight replicated in Frogmoor in the town centre.

Les Root, owner of Roots delicatessen in Crendon Street, said: “The reason there are so many empty buildings in Wycombe is Eden. What did you expect was going to happen?

“Eden is not even full. They built it in the wrong place at the wrong time. We are no longer in a prime position.”

Mr Root said his business was doing well given its niche appeal and he was appealing against business rates set by Government, which he said had risen by a third in two years.

Mr Root, who said rents were also “unrealistic”, added: “This could be an ideal time to turn the High Street in to a niche shopping area.”

Abid Khan, who runs Barns dry cleaners and newsagents in nearly Castle Street, said: “It was bound to happen. Most of the trade has now gone towards Eden.”

Takings were a quarter down last year, he said. “You don’t get a lot of flow of people. When they see a quiet area they just move away. It seems ghostly.”

Construction works in the road had also hit trade, he said, and businesses rates are “extortionate”. On-street parking should be return to the road, he added.

Mark Knapton, co-manager of Bucks Trophy Centre in the town centre’s White Hart Street said the closure of nearby banks had reduced passing trade.

Coffee Republic has been among the names to leave the street – although a new South Bucks Hospice charity shop opens there tomorrow.

He said: “This street was heaving three or four years ago. It has died an absolute death.

“No-one is going to move in when there are so many empty ones. We will get a whole row of charity shops.”

On Thursday High Wycombe is a “ghost town” he said with takings down 75 per cent.

Customers often said Wycombe District Council – which provided land for Eden – had “destroyed the town” and “ripped it to pieces”, Mr Knapton said.

Palli Sachdeva, of nearby Juicy Wholesale, which is closer to Eden, said rents and rates were hitting the business rather than the centre.

She said: “If the rents were cheaper people would open up more shops. But is so expensive – people can’t afford it.”

The study also found the average size of vacant units had fallen by 14 per cent “suggesting it is the smaller shops that are most difficult to let”.

London was best placed to weather the storm, it found, as it was “benefiting from an influx of high spending tourists as a result of the falling value of the pound”.

The towns and cities studied were Bournemouth, Cardiff, Chippenham, Dundee, High Wycombe, Ilford, Kensington High Street in London, Lisburn, Liverpool, MetroCentre, Northampton, London Oxford Street, Plymouth, Rotherham and Worcester.

Comments (13)

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12:10pm Sun 5 Apr 09

mingming says...

No suprice really.
No suprice really. mingming
  • Score: 0

1:07pm Sun 5 Apr 09

irish john says...

Drop the rates.
Drop the rates. irish john
  • Score: 0

3:42pm Sun 5 Apr 09

Slacker says...

This is probably nothing to do with Eden and everything to do with the high price of shop rent in Wycombe and surrounding areas.

A friend owns a shop and he pays over £3,500 a quarter for rent. Add to that the high business rates, wages and electricity bills, etc and it is a very costly business to be in. He cannot afford to stay in business at the moment but is trying his hardest to stay afloat.
This is probably nothing to do with Eden and everything to do with the high price of shop rent in Wycombe and surrounding areas. A friend owns a shop and he pays over £3,500 a quarter for rent. Add to that the high business rates, wages and electricity bills, etc and it is a very costly business to be in. He cannot afford to stay in business at the moment but is trying his hardest to stay afloat. Slacker
  • Score: 0

3:57pm Sun 5 Apr 09

Geezer from says...

Well, what with the cost of rates and rent, its hard work keeping a shop going. Expensive parking does not help and nowhere to have a wee.
Well, what with the cost of rates and rent, its hard work keeping a shop going. Expensive parking does not help and nowhere to have a wee. Geezer from
  • Score: 0

4:06pm Sun 5 Apr 09

Blueberry says...

Of course it's to do with Eden - not that that means Eden is evil.

It's jsut that Eden opened just as the recession hit, so lots MORE units just as LESS were needed, so of course there are lots empty.
Of course it's to do with Eden - not that that means Eden is evil. It's jsut that Eden opened just as the recession hit, so lots MORE units just as LESS were needed, so of course there are lots empty. Blueberry
  • Score: 0

4:06pm Sun 5 Apr 09

SDJones says...

its a shame the council didnt think ahead a bit more as this was surely going to happen, another balls up by them but no surprise, time for them to get off their backsides and remedy the situation
its a shame the council didnt think ahead a bit more as this was surely going to happen, another balls up by them but no surprise, time for them to get off their backsides and remedy the situation SDJones
  • Score: 0

4:07pm Sun 5 Apr 09

Blueberry says...

Yea it's easy to blame the council.

Eden was planned YEARS ago, long before recession was imminent. It's just bad timing.
Yea it's easy to blame the council. Eden was planned YEARS ago, long before recession was imminent. It's just bad timing. Blueberry
  • Score: 0

4:32pm Sun 5 Apr 09

wayneo says...

Blueberry wrote:
Yea it's easy to blame the council. Eden was planned YEARS ago, long before recession was imminent. It's just bad timing.
What? Are you seriously trying to tell us that even a from 3-5 years ago, that from record borrowing (a trillion quid plus), unsustainable public spending, mass immigration,borrowin
gon hyper-inflated house prices that it wasn't going to come crashing around our ears???

People really need to get their heads out of the sand.
[quote][p][bold]Blueberry[/bold] wrote: Yea it's easy to blame the council. Eden was planned YEARS ago, long before recession was imminent. It's just bad timing.[/p][/quote]What? Are you seriously trying to tell us that even a from 3-5 years ago, that from record borrowing (a trillion quid plus), unsustainable public spending, mass immigration,borrowin gon hyper-inflated house prices that it wasn't going to come crashing around our ears??? People really need to get their heads out of the sand. wayneo
  • Score: 0

5:18pm Sun 5 Apr 09

towncryer says...

Cllr Clarke is quick to say how wonderful EDEN but not so quick to spend money on other parts of Town to revitalise it
Yet again Torys failing to invest in Town of Wycombe !!!
Cllr Clarke is quick to say how wonderful EDEN but not so quick to spend money on other parts of Town to revitalise it Yet again Torys failing to invest in Town of Wycombe !!! towncryer
  • Score: 0

6:29pm Sun 5 Apr 09

Kadoogan says...

Of course Eden is at least partly to blame. The majority of populated units have been taken up by shops that just moved from elsewhere in Wycombe. As a result the High Street and Frogmore areas now look like dumps, and the only prospect of new shops in the near fuure are charity or pound stores. Whilst I'm not a massive critic of Een like some, the timing of it has been a disaster for the town as a whole.
Of course Eden is at least partly to blame. The majority of populated units have been taken up by shops that just moved from elsewhere in Wycombe. As a result the High Street and Frogmore areas now look like dumps, and the only prospect of new shops in the near fuure are charity or pound stores. Whilst I'm not a massive critic of Een like some, the timing of it has been a disaster for the town as a whole. Kadoogan
  • Score: 0

8:46pm Sun 5 Apr 09

Shelley61 says...

I reckon BFP reporters sit there, write up a story and think "right, let's light the touch paper and wait for the stream of comments"!

S/W = gain-wind - no thanks!!
I reckon BFP reporters sit there, write up a story and think "right, let's light the touch paper and wait for the stream of comments"! S/W = gain-wind - no thanks!! Shelley61
  • Score: 0

10:36pm Sun 5 Apr 09

tinkerbell2 says...

Maybe if there was advertising in Eden of other parts of the town i.e. Castle Street, then maybe shoppers would know that these other shops existed giving them more of a fighting chance to stay open, thus avoiding ever increasing empty premises. This should have been done as a matter of course by coucil, surely the revenue they recieve in rates would make it worth while keeping more shops trading!!!
Maybe if there was advertising in Eden of other parts of the town i.e. Castle Street, then maybe shoppers would know that these other shops existed giving them more of a fighting chance to stay open, thus avoiding ever increasing empty premises. This should have been done as a matter of course by coucil, surely the revenue they recieve in rates would make it worth while keeping more shops trading!!! tinkerbell2
  • Score: 0

1:06pm Mon 6 Apr 09

Craig.... says...

Has anyone actually read the article. Wycombe has the highest number of vacant shops out FIFTEEN places surveyed. Not only that, but two of them were Kensington High Street and Oxford Street.

Its not exactly a fair conclusion to be drawn from that level of data.
Has anyone actually read the article. Wycombe has the highest number of vacant shops out FIFTEEN places surveyed. Not only that, but two of them were Kensington High Street and Oxford Street. Its not exactly a fair conclusion to be drawn from that level of data. Craig....
  • Score: 0

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