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West Suffolk high streets bucking the national trend for vacancy rates

West Suffolk is bucking the national trend for the number of shops occupied in its main towns, figures have shown.

Data published by the Association of Town and City Management revealed that Bury St Edmunds, Newmarket, Mildenhall, Haverhill and Brandon all had ‘healthy’ vacancy rates of between five and nine per cent - below the national average of 10 per cent.

A West Suffolk Council spokesman said: “We work with partners to ensure the continuing success of our high streets as a place where people go to shop, to eat and drink, to enjoy leisure and cultural activities and take part in social events.

Abbeygate Street Bury St Edmunds Picture by Mark Westley. (23903555)
Abbeygate Street Bury St Edmunds Picture by Mark Westley. (23903555)

“We have also identified and invested in a number of key sites and are leading on shaping the future growth of our towns as a place to live, work and enjoy free time.

“That is one of the reasons that despite the challenges facing retailers up and down the country, our high streets continue to attract entrepreneurs who are willing to put their faith in West Suffolk as a place to start their new business venture.”

Other areas of the county did not fare so well, with one in 10 shops lying empty in East Suffolk.

Andy Walker, head of policy and research at Suffolk Chamber of Commerce, said a review of business rates would be a ‘positive step’ in helping to support high streets and the retail sector.

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