Around 12% of shops in Town are left empty
THE latest Main Centre Survey has found around 12% of shops in the main retail areas of Town are empty.
The finding was made in the report by the Planning Service, which looked at how the Town and Bridge are performing.
The UK Town Centre average vacancy rate for the second half of 2017 was 11.2%.
Overall the report said the main centre of St Peter Port appeared to be operating well.
‘There are clear strengths to build on, such as the diversity of uses and quality of the built environment as well as weaknesses to address such as those relating to the public realm and accessibility,’ the report stated.
‘Vacant units are an area which will continue to be monitored for impact and trends. Opportunities for improvement can also be observed, such as where building condition is fair or poor rather than good, or where units are considered dull or inactive.’
One big concern raised in the report was around traffic.
‘The dominance of traffic along the seafront remains an issue, which divorces the harbour area from the rest of Town,’ the report states.
‘According to evidence (2017 Retail Survey and 2013 Vision), improvements to the public realm would be welcomed, including an increase in pedestrianised areas, which could also act as a measure to enhance vitality and viability.’
It was noted that while the Albert Pier, Crown Pier and North Beach had a range of uses, their main focus was for parking.
‘Despite the diverse range of uses, the harbour side of the Harbour Action Area remains dominated by traffic and parking which remains a significant challenge of the St Peter Port Harbour Action Area,’ the report said.
Footfall in the centre of St Peter Port was higher than in other areas, with lunchtimes having the highest counts.
‘The daytime counts were noted to include a large number of tourists from visiting cruise ships so count data is likely to vary significantly according to season,’ the report said.
Just 11% of businesses in the centre of Town open on Sundays and about 14% after 5pm.
Using a categorisation system for the shops, St Peter Port was found to have 27 out of the 30 possible shop categories.
‘This breakdown of information indicates a diverse retail offering,’ the report stated. ‘The categories which are not represented are building societies, bakers and greengrocers and fishmongers, suggesting perhaps that there could be scope for additional convenience retail in Town.'
Within the area as a whole, the hot food takeaway, sandwich shops, cafes and restaurants category has the highest representation, at nearly 18%. This was followed by vacant shops, at 12%. There has been a rise in the number of empty buildings in the Lower Pollet from 3% to 6%, including the former Miss Nob and Urban G businesses.
‘This contributes to the area having a more run down appearance than the core retail area, with environmental quality further impaired by the dominance of vehicles on Lower Pollet,’ the report states.