Could pop-up shops be the way forward for long empty units in Bury St Edmunds town centre?
Town centre bosses have pledged to do all they can to improve the appearance of long empty shops in Bury St Edmunds town centre including the possibility of pop-up businesses.
Mark Cordell and Mike Kirkham, of Our Bury St Edmunds Business Improvement District (BID), met with three local commercial agents and a West Suffolk Council officer last Thursday to discuss a way forward.
The council says the vacancy rate in Bury is 7.6 per cent, which is lower than the national average of 10.4 per cent and considered by the Association of Town and City Management in the ‘healthy range’.
During the meeting they discussed units once occupied by Argos, Betfred, Bowers, Cornhill Walk, Giraffe, Goldsmiths, Intersport, Laura Ashley, Palmers and PC World.
Mr Cordell said: “Each of them has got different circumstances as to why they’re currently empty and Argos, Cornhill Walk and Bowers are at various stages of planning applications.
“The one they indicated might have a tenant reasonably soon was Intersport. The other ones are large, they’re very expensive and there’s unlikely to be any short term positive movement.
“We discussed things like pop-up shops, making them look a bit better and to be fair to them they’re going to go and look into these possibilities.”
He added: “The BID is trying to do all we can to either make them look better or have tenants in there to make Bury town centre a more attractive place to visit.”
The ‘reassuring’ message from the meeting was that there has been ‘considerable interest’ in some of the smaller units in the town including Paddy and Scott’s.
Cllr Susan Glossop, West Suffolk Council’s cabinet member for growth, said Bury has a ‘thriving town centre’ with 58.2 percent of shops being independent - higher than the national average of 35.9 percent.
She said it was ‘really important that units are as presentable as possible while they are awaiting their next tenant’ and the council is working with the BID, landlords and commercial agents ‘to explore new ways of achieving this including pop-up shops’.
The council has also drawn up plans for flats and business units at the former Post Office.