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Radical thinking required
11:46am Thursday 7th March 2013 in Letters
THE centre of Andover is in terrible state and I think the council have got to think radically.
We know that high streets up and down the country are in difficulties because of competition from the Internet and also high rents and rates, However Andover is at tipping point.
The level of empty shops, especially at the top of town and in the Chantry Centre, combined with the lack of retail diversity, will now be acting as strong disincentive to potential tenants interested in the empty shops.
In addition, when existing retailers undertake reviews of their stores, this will have a bearing on those reviews.
Should one of the last few big stores decide to go (M&S, Argos, Waitrose etc) this might turn decline into a downward spiral that would be very difficult to halt.
The council should think radically and should substantially reduce the rates on new leases and phase up to full rates over several years to allow new ventures to get off the ground.
Also where landlords are holding out for unrealistic rents on empty shops the council should be able to fine them for leaving the shops unoccupied.
The impact of empty shops backfires on everybody and landlords should have some measure of obligation to keep their properties occupied.
In addition the parking in town should be free from 1pm to encourage shoppers into the town.
Without rapid and decisive action the future looks very bleak for Andover town centre.
Victor Fauville Fullerton Road Andover