Fewer empty shops in Wokingham than anywhere else in BerkshireBy Laura Herbert
January 10, 2013
There are fewer empty shops in Wokingham than in the rest of Berkshire, according to the latest report.
A survey from the Local Data Company revealed the percentage of vacant shops in the town in September 2012 was 8.4 per cent.
But the news comes as another high street giant prepares to leave town – Dorothy Perkins and Burton in Market Place will close its doors on Saturday.
The report showed Bracknell town centre as having the highest proportion of empty shops with 22.6 per cent of buildings vacant, up 3.2 per cent from 2011.
However, many of the buildings are empty and awaiting demolition as part of Bracknell’s regeneration.
Mark Walton, president of Wokingham Chamber of Commerce, said: “If you are outside of Wokingham everyone says what a lovely place it is, but people inside it think it’s not so good.
“Sometimes we have to measure these things to show people how good it is and Wokingham has around one in 10 shops empty.”
He added: “Wokingham benefits with the market town approach. You can come in on a Saturday when the sun is shining and then in the evening the cafes, restaurants and bars take over.
“What we are not generating is a mix of shops and part of this is reflected in the shape and sizes of stores. For example, Peacocks and M&Co are very narrow and long, which doesn’t make it attractive to retailers.
“The regeneration plans detail better quality and well-shaped units that will be easy to let.”
The results show Maidenhead has the second highest number of vacant stores with 15.5 per cent, up 27 per cent from the previous year.
Reading is one of only two towns in Berkshire where the number of empty shops has fallen. The town had 14.4 per cent of stores empty in September, down 10 per cent from 2011. Windsor also had a reduction of seven per cent to 9.2 per cent.
There is no data for the percentage of vacant buildings in Wokingham town centre in 2011.
Mr Walton continued: “The people who live in and around Wokingham love their town. There is still a lot of support for local trading and that’s what we need to enforce – if you want your town to be local, then keep buying local. These retailers need support and people need to be going into them and spending.
“Wokingham is doing very well compared to other towns but there is always scope for improvement, which is why the town team was set up.”
The town team aims to promote Wokingham and work with traders.