The shop vacancy rate in Brighton and Hove has fallen to its lowest level since the recession started, according to Brighton and Hove City Council leader Jason Kitcat.
He wrote about the subject in his weekly column in Latest magazine, published yesterday (Tuesday 16 September). And he also explained how European Union funding supported the growth of temporary “pop-up shops” in vacant premises locally.
Councillor Kitcat said: “We’re lucky to have relatively few empty shops compared to many other cities. In fact, only 5 per cent of our city centre shops are empty – the lowest since the recession began.
“Empty shops don’t tend to stay empty for long but turnover as properties are sold and businesses move leave windows of opportunity for short-term uses.
“‘Pop-up shops’ are projects that need short-term space, whether for a few days or months. Uses could include everything from a community art gallery through to testing out new business ideas without the commitment of a long lease.
“However, it can be near impossible for small local groups to find affordable premises, especially in our popular city centre.
“Thanks to EU grant funding and our partners, we’ve been able to set up a project to support Brighton and Hove’s famous arts and creative industries sector through uniting creative projects with empty shop spaces in the city centre.
“This prevents the empty properties from becoming a problem in the local neighbourhood while also providing much-needed space for short term projects.
“It’s a win-win for everyone.
“For example, Taj’s Tea Parlour is now up and running in Brighton Square, making temporary use of an empty property due to be redeveloped. Taj’s combines a café with creative workshops and events open to both residents and visitors.
“Other projects have included an award-winning gallery run by local artists and a temporary performance area for Brighton-based theatre group Pink Fringe.
“A photography exhibition and an installation for the Brighton Digital Festival are setting up in empty shops later this month as the scheme grows.
“Important projects such as this help build our considerable reputation for the arts and creative businesses and earn us accolades like recently being named one of the top cities in the country for economic growth.”