Monday, 25 January 2021

Lazy landlords don’t like pop-up shops, says town manager

Lazy landlords don’t like pop-up shops, says town manager

LANDLORDS in Henley do not want “pop-up” shops in their premises partly because they are “lazy”, says the town and community manager.

Helen Barnett was responding to a question by Deputy Mayor David Eggleton on how the town’s empty retail units might be filled.

Ms Barnett said: “There are not very many vacant properties.

“Most of the landlords won’t do pop-up shops because of the leasing and also if they do get a proper tenant. And then they’re lazy and they don’t want them.

“Then retailers that we have also don’t like pop-up shops because they’re not paying proper rent or proper rates so we would rather get proper retailers in.”

She told a meeting of the council’s town and community committee that Henley’s shop vacancy rate was currently 9.4 per cent compared with a national rate of 12.4 per cent.

“We’re still doing amazingly well,” said Ms Barnett. “We are under the 10 per cent vacancy rate, which is well below the national average at the moment.”

She said the biggest unit to be available was the former Laura Ashley store in Reading Road which closed last month after 10 years and would probably take “some filling”.

She added: “There is still a lot of interest in Henley.”

The meeting heard the former Sparkes Jewellery unit on the corner of Reading Road and Station Road was also back on the market.

The Good Kitchen, which is run by Gemma Birch, of Marmion Road, Henley, applied for new branding at the shop earlier this year but Ms Barnett said she had decided it was “too difficult” to open. The old shop closed after 20 years when the lease expired but Sparkes’ owner Sheila Clark continues to trade online.

Councillor Sarah Miller, who chairs the committee, said the unit would suit a pop-up shop.

Councillor Will Hamilton said the closure of Laura Ashley was a “bit of a worry” but he had spoken to the landlord, who had some positive ideas for the premises.

Meanwhile, retailers are to be asked for their views on a trial closure of a road in the town centre.

The committee agreed to consider shutting Market Place once a month despite criticism from some members and traders.

The idea has been branded “bonkers” and Deputy Mayor David Eggleton said it would “kill” the town. But the committee is pursuing the idea and says there will be further meetings with a questionnaire going to all retailers and businesses that would be impacted.

Cllr Miller first proposed closing the road from the crossroads to the Greys Road car park entrance, saying it would mean more space for events, such as markets, as well as outdoor space for retailers and hospitality outlets. Another option would be to close the road in front of the town hall to create more space.

She told the meeting that it was a “thorny subject”. Lots of people had told her they were “very happy” with the idea but there were also a lot of people against it.

She said: “Nothing has happened yet and there will be more talks with retailers and councillors.”

Cllr Hamilton said the traders had made it clear they opposed the idea.

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