As if to echo the row over Brough Butchers, the excellent QLocal reports on yet another Ormskirk shop closure. It seems that if we residents and council tax payers need to know how and why the retail trade is seemingly in crisis we need to ask Roger Blaxall of QLocal.
He writes “Remember when Church St. used to be a busy shopping street? Andrew Bowyer does – and that’s one reason why five years ago he opened the Dove Mill shop opposite the former Tesco Metro. Those days have well and truly gone – with Church St. now a shadow of its former self – but what’s upset Andrew even more is that not a single councillor or council officer’s contacted him to find out why he was shutting up shop and concentrating his business online.
“We’ve had regular customers telling us how sad they are to see us go, but that’s it. Not a single councillor or council officer has spoken to me. It’s all very well quoting footfall statistics but the fact of the matter is that this end of Church St. has been dying a slow death since Tesco left,” he concluded.
“And of course footfall doesn’t know the age of the feet – with very few younger families making Ormskirk a destination of choice nowadays…” You can read the article here http://www.qlocal.co.uk/ormskirk/news_list/When_Doves_cry___businessman_laments_Council%27s_lack_of_concern_on_shop_closure-55026790.htm
In the WLBC “A Market Town Strategy For Ormskirk” you can read about “Research – updating market research; establishment of a footfall base; recognising “our customer and visitors”. And also “Members heard that the proposed market research into footfall would include consultation with current market traders as well as town centre retailers”. We might well also ask what is the ongoing arrangement to monitor the footfall at Wheatsheaf Walks, now owned by WLBC and its council tax payers after paying £2,880,000 for it?
A property agent recently advertised “Investment Summary Prime trading location. A 20 year full repairing and insuring lease to Café Fortune Limited (Company No.08787652) trading as Starbucks from 22 May 2015. The lease contains a tenant only option to break in 10th year of the term. The lease is guaranteed by Gastronomy Foods UK Limited (Company No. 05612486). The current rental is £35,000 p.a.x. with annual compound RPI uplifts with a collar and cap of 1-3%. n Good future rental growth prospects off a rebased Zone A level of £36.61. The subject property provides modern ground floor retail accommodation with staff and storage facilities located at first floor level. The unit benefits from dual frontages to both the pedestrianised Moor Street and surface car park to the rear which is home to Marks & Spencer Simply Food. The property has been registered for VAT purposes and it is assumed that the transaction will be dealt with as a TOGC. We are instructed to seek offers for our client’s freehold interest of £500,000. A purchase at this level would reflect a net initial yield of 6.68% and a reversionary yield of 7% in May 2020 (current RPI for 2015 is 1% which annually compounded would equate to a rental of £36,785.35 in May 2020)”.
And footfall was of intense interest when Two Saints Retail Park was for sale at over £9,000,000. It “occupies a highly prominent site inside of Park Road (A570), Ormskirk’s ring road and main arterial route. The Property benefits from its position opposite Morrisons supermarket and immediately to the rear Church Street. Church Street comprises part of Ormskirk’s pedestrianised centre, leading to the town’s prime high street retail pitch along Moor Street and Aughton Street. A pedestrian route links Church Street with the Property, ensuring constant footfall to and from the town centre. Footfall is further enhanced by the Property’s car park, which is the largest in Ormskirk town centre, complemented by an adjacent smaller council car park”.
Not so far from Dove Mill and the declining Church Street. What will WLBC do to really improve on its Ormskirk Market Town Strategy? Not to mention again its footfall!