‘Sky-high rents stifling town’s chances of regeneration’ – trader

‘Sky-high rents stifling town’s chances of regeneration’ – trader

PROPERTY landlords are stifling Batley’s regeneration with sky-high rent demands, a trader has claimed.

Sian Makepeace closed her Reunion Cafe on Branch Road on Monday due to ill-health but vowed to be back when she has recovered.

She scouted alternative premises in the town centre and was shocked by what landlords wanted.

Sian said of her future plans: “The sad truth is a lot of the empty units are owned by big corporations.

“One in particular is owned by a company in London and it would take an enormous amount of money to refit the shop.

“They were then asking for rent which is far and above what the footfall of Batley can cover.”

Another empty shop needed a new ceiling and rewiring on top of what Sian claimed she was quoted in rent – £11,500 a year plus VAT.

She said: “That’s a lot of money to ask a small trader to invest in terms of the capital to do the building up and then pay rent.”

Two other units said to be owned by Tesco could be more up Sian’s street when she returns.

She said: “When I enquired about those, they were prepared to let you go in for six months rent-free.

“The capital saved could then be used on the refit. That’s a much more favourable view of things because investment is needed in this town.”

Aside from Sian’s cafe, hair salon Above and Beyond on Upper Commercial Street closed recently. The Press counted 10 empty shops on Commercial Street from the town hall to Wellington Street, including the old Batley News office. Recent arrivals include ice cream parlour Gelato Passion and the Hometown Diner.

Batley Business Association secretary Sian said the town could create a niche for itself in vintage goods.

She said: “Leave the supermarkets and chain stores to out-of-town shopping centres. I think what Batley is crying out for is vintage.

“When you look at the success of Vintage Day and what else is already here, like Redbrick Mill, I think Batley is ripe for retro knick-knacks and clothes.”

The third annual Batley Vintage Day is set for Sunday, May 28 (10am) in Market Place.

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