What you think should be done about Preston’s empty shops

Posted on - 7th April, 2019 - 7:00am | Author - | Posted in - Business, Politics, Preston City Centre, Preston Council, Preston News
The former BHS site is now boarded up
Many shops, like the former BHS site, are now empty

Empty shops were voted one of the biggest issues for Prestonians in the recent Big Blog Preston Survey.


With more than 20 per cent of our city’s high street shops standing empty – higher than the national average – it’s easy to see why.

Blog Preston asked our Facebook followers what they think should be done to get our high street booming again. Here’s a selection of the ideas we received.

Read more: What can be done about empty shops in Preston city centre?

Reduce rent and rates

This idea cropped up time and again as a way to encourage new or small businesses.

Moy Woodhead applauded the way she sees other cities around the world adapting rates to help small businesses. She said: “Small shopkeepers make the high street look good, give a more pleasurable shopping experience and therefore encourage more folk into towns to shop, eat, drink and be entertained.”

Stephen Day agreed: “If rates were based on income then this would encourage more smaller niche and interesting businesses and therefore make it a much better shopping experience for the public.”

Carley Louise Stewart said: “Reduce ridiculous rent and rates. It’s so difficult to compete with chains and the big businesses who can easily afford these costs. We should be encouraging and supporting local, small, independent businesses to help the economic growth of Preston.”

Read more: Dionne’s Little Wardrobe opening in Preston Box Market

Develop the leisure offering

Lots of people were thinking outside retail. June Frances Latham and Megan Nimmo both suggested activity-based ideas such as a swimming pool or skating rink.

Ben Tapsell believes empty shops should have their use changed from retail to leisure. He said: “It’s a fact of the times that people don’t go to town to shop any more, it’s all about online or out of town where it’s easy to drive to. People are however moving back into towns and cities to live (look are the transformation around Winckley Square) so it makes perfect sense to cater for that.”

Olly Olly said: “I support town centres being turned into bars, cafes, restaurants and a cinema. Make town centres the focal point of the region. An entertainment hotspot. I’m genuinely looking forward to be able to go for a meal and a drink then on to the Cinema in Preston town centre with my family.”

Read more: Lancastria House will no longer be demolished in Preston Markets cinema scheme

Adapt car parking arrangements

Making changes to car parking was another popular idea.

Kath Eastwood commented that Chorley attracts shoppers by offering three hours free parking, while Adrian Spencer-Taylor said Bolton give 90 minutes free. He added: “Do like they do abroad if you spend money in the town centre shops your ticket gets stamped for free parking.”

Chris Smith was thinking big with his suggestion: “The draw of a retail park is purely convenience, so why not mirror that in the town centre. The council should block buy/demolish a large area, right next to the ring road for example, and build an enormous free to everyone car park!”

Read more: New pay and display car park opens near Preston city centre

Help our vulnerable people

Various suggestions were made around using empty shops to do more for our homeless and young people.

Cherry Alston said: “A place for the homeless to stay and a rehabilitation centre to get them off the streets and back into community. Also a drop in centre to check their health, for the ones that want to be helped.”

Cherry also suggested youth clubs as a way to reduce knife crime. Lisa Neary agreed: “Not progressing the youth hub was a massive mistake. Give young people affordable places to go to have fun and you will see a reduction in anti-social behaviour and knife crime. State of the art community hubs with cheap youth activities, youth groups, and a cafe in a food kitchen style to support those on low incomes.”

Read more: How you can sleepout at Deepdale with Preston North End to help The Foxton Centre

What do you think of these suggestions? What else could be done? Let us know in the comments below.

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