One of Preston’s most popular coffee shops has temporarily closed blaming the impact of roadworks in Preston city centre.Advertisement
Update: Ham and Jam has now entered liquidation
Ham and Jam in Lancaster Road says in the past nine months its footfall had rapidly dwindled.
Owner Richard Lowthian decided to close the coffee shop on Saturday (30 June) and consider its next steps.
Opened in late 2015, as one of the winners of the Preston City Council and Preston Business Improvement District backed ‘Guild Merchant’ competition, the coffee shop had grown to become an arts venue hosting regular poetry nights as well as being a ‘pop-up restaurant’ during February this year.
Read more: Ham and Jam counts cost after break in
In a statement released on behalf of Ham and Jam it outlines how the venue: “Has been hit by a huge loss of trade as a result of nine months of road works, part of the city’s regeneration plan.
“The regeneration initiatives at Preston Bus Station and Victorian Market has also dramatically reduced passing trade on Lancaster Road.
“As a result, the shop’s owner Richard Lowthian has been forced to consider the future of the business as the fixed costs including rent to the city council and business rates are too high – but his attempt to get these reduced have so far failed.”
The building housing Ham and Jam had been vacant for nearly ten years before Mr Lowthian took on the lease
A number of arts organisations who regularly use Ham and Jam are now urging the city and county councils to step in and help save the venue.
Preston Arts Association, Damson Poets, storytelling group Spark Preston, Derelict Theatre, Lancashire Fringe Festival, Oxheys Mill Studios and several independent creatives have met this week to discuss Ham and Jam’s future.
Damson Poets’ Terry Quinn said: As well as being an excellent independent coffee shop Ham & Jam has been at the forefront of providing facilities for the arts in Preston since it opened three years ago.
“It is ironic that the purpose in doing these regeneration projects and improvement works is to provide an area to be known as an Arts Quarter. What is the point of trying to create such an area when it is simultaneously causing the closure of the type of business that is needed to make it a success?
“Ham and Jam have tried to get support and raise awareness of the challenges the business has faced but has so far failed.
“We think that Ham & Jam should be given compensation for their losses, which have been caused by the regeneration/ improvement works. We also believe they should be provided with a favourable rent and rates regime for the next five years to enable the venue to flourish again as part of the Arts Quarter.
“We understand that there are legal limitations to certain aspects of this request but feel that we, as members of the Preston area arts community, could work together with the various bodies to come up with creative solutions to keep the Ham & Jam Coffee Shop open and as successful as it was before the regeneration and improvement road works began.”
Read more: Lancaster Road roadworks see barriers removed at Church Street junction
Leader of the city council councillor Matthew Brown said: “It is disappointing to learn of Ham and Jam’s closure. The council has supported the café since it’s opening, working with Richard on a variety of levels – including many staff and councillors personally having become loyal customers.
“Over the past few years it has been great to see Ham and Jam provide a venue to the local arts community, as we recognise the value of culture to Preston and continue to invest in it. However, despite our confidence that we have gone above and beyond in our support for Ham and Jam, as landlords we are unable to break confidentiality and discuss the specific details.”
A spokesman for the county council said: “We have worked hard with businesses to schedule the regeneration work to try to minimise the impact on them. This has included providing signs to show businesses are ‘open as usual’.
“The overall aim of the improvement scheme is to create a better city centre that appeals to businesses and shoppers, improving the experience for everyone who visits this part of Preston.
“However we obviously don’t want to lose any existing firms and would encourage people to show their support while the improvement work is underway.”
Did you visit Ham and Jam? What do you think should be done? Let us know in the comments below