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Vacant town-centre premises worry

Dickinsons, Fenkle Street, Alnwick
Dickinsons, Fenkle Street, Alnwick

A study of the empty premises, including shops, in Alnwick town centre has been launched in the face of competition from proposed new retail units on the edge of town.

David Taylor, vice-chairman of the town’s chamber of trade, presented pictures of 22 empty premises at the group’s meeting on Tuesday evening at the White Swan Hotel.

The former Moshulu shoe shop in Alnwick

The former Moshulu shoe shop in Alnwick

He said: “If you look around the town at all the premises that are not occupied – they may be ones that have never traded, you’ve got Narrowgate House, there’s the McCarthy & Stone units, you have the places around Wilkinsons – there are 22 unoccupied premises.

“As part of Alnwick Town Council’s working party, we are looking at what we can do about this, rather than just letting them become a charity shop because nobody has actually done anything about it.”

Mr Taylor and Tim Kirton, projects and funding officer at the town council have drawn up a list of all the information needed to find out more about the issue – who the landlords are, who the agents are, what class of use, floor area, accessibility, business rates, etc.

“We are just trying to put all this information together to see if we can do something about it.”

At the meeting, chamber member Caroline Stewart, of Bari Tea tearoom in Narrowgate, expressed her amazement that some of the vacant plots were new and purpose-built,

But Mr Taylor suggested it might be due to a developer’s enforced commitment to provided the retail units as part of a bigger development.

Carlo Biagioni, chairman of the chamber said: “It is partly to do with parking.

“People go to the supermarket, they go to the out-of-town shops – they like to park outside.”