Talking shop in a healthy town with just 3.4% empty units

Gennaro Borelli
Gennaro Borelli

Leighton Buzzard may not have won its share of ‘Queen of Shops’ Mary Portas’ money to revive its High Street, but latest figures suggest that the town didn’t need it anyway.

Since the town’s bid for a slice of cash from the Government’s Portas Pilot scheme fell flat in July 2012, the number of vacant units in the town centre has halved.

Back then 14 of 204 shops sat unused. But, according to a report to Thursday’s town council economic development sub-committee, that number had dropped to just seven by November last year, leaving just 3.4% of town centre shops with their shutters permanently pulled down.

But while Gennaro Borelli, chairman of independent local business collective LB First, says that the small influx of new shops has set Leighton on a good footing as the UK continues to recover from recession, he warned against complacency.

But while it would seem that things are picking up in Leighton following the global financial crisis, other nearby towns such as Dunstable fared less well with the number of empty units increasing between July 2012 and November last year to stand at 47 (17.7%).

For more on this story see the February 11 issue of the LBO.

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