Time to apply pressure to fill empty Alnwick shops

The shopping area on Lagny Street. Some of the shopping units have never been filled and Store Twenty One has shut.
The shopping area on Lagny Street. Some of the shopping units have never been filled and Store Twenty One has shut.

Pressure needs to be applied to try to fill a string of vacant units in part of Alnwick town centre.

That’s the view of one councillor, as part of discussions about empty premises in the main shopping area.

At last Thursday’s town-council meeting, Coun Peter Broom expressed the need for the premises underneath the residential development on Lagny Street to be occupied, some of which have never been occupied in almost a decade.

He said: “Store Twenty One is empty now and that part of the town is looking a bit of an eyesore.

“We need to put pressure on to the people who own the building to do something.”

In April, Alnwick’s Chamber of Trade began a survey to look at the empty shops/premises in the town.

The aim was also to identify the types of shops that Alnwick doesn’t have, with a view to filling these gaps.

The town council is also involved in the survey work.

Tim Kirton, the town council’s projects and funding officer, said that one of the empty bank buildings is ‘under offer to a major national chain’, while work is ongoing to open three units underneath the Robert Adam Court housing scheme, facing onto Bondgate Without.

He also mentioned the plan to turn the former town-council chamber into a restaurant and flats.

Coun Martin Harrington praised the work to try to fill the empty units in the town, adding that Berwick high street is ‘looking a bit worse for wear’.

This prompted Coun Broom to say that it is important to get the parking right, to create a vibrant and sustainable town centre.

He said: “I have spoken to people up in that area and the biggest problem in Berwick is the mistakes they have made over the last 20 years where they have got rid of parking, and it’s had a massive impact.

“You used to be able to park on the bridge, but you can’t now. They haven’t got the footfall that they used to have because you can’t park.

“In terms of Alnwick, you have to be very careful of rejigging traffic movements.

“People want to park close to the shops. It is all about parking and making it easily accessible.”