Your say / Business

‘Park Street needs a lifeline’

By Paul Matthews , Monday Jun 6, 2016


Drastic action is needed to halt the decline of Park Street as a premier shopping destination. The demise of Goldbrick House is the latest in a long list of closures crippling the Park Street economy as a number of shops and restaurants have closed down. It’s clear Park Street needs a lifeline from the council or it could end up a rather shabby street on the way to the Centre. 

We are based in Great George Street – just off Park Street – and have noted the local retail offering’s decline in fortunes with concern – in particular the growing number of voids.

While some believe the pop up shops appearing up and down Park Street demonstrate the area’s lively and highly independent spirit, a great many retail businesses and shoppers would regard the trend as destructive to the quality of the retail pitch. Park Street is struggling to hold its own in the face of a number of adverse factors.

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The former Moss Bros shop was turned into an art gallery by a group of squatters

Park Street thrives on having a good mix of traders and plenty of food and beverage outlets to increase dwell time. Otherwise, the quality of the street will decline leading to a drop in retail property values and alternative uses potentially changing the face of the road.

We raised similar points about the Whiteladies Road area last year. We are seeing an increasing imbalance as café bar businesses come and go – while long established shops simply go. 

It’s not so much footfall as there are always plenty of people walking up and down – but they are en route elsewhere rather than the genuine shoppers Park Street needs. Clients we have been speaking to are highlighting a number of factors including high business rates and the lack of easily available, cheap parking in and around the city centre. In the longer term, the mix of traders and wider appeal of these characterful shopping areas needs to be improved, enabling shoppers to spend time at the location.

Landlords looking at under-performing retail centres were increasingly likely to look at alternatives – including residential usage – commercial and office space around Clifton had proved particularly popular with developers looking to convert business premises to residential use, accelerating the diminution of business space.

The city’s retail heart has shifted to Cabot Circus, while out of town centres such as Cribbs Causeway have gone from strength to strength. We’re waving the flag for independent retail locations threatened by high rates, increasing competition and lack of parking facilities.

Paul Matthews is head of the Bristol branch of property consultancy Bruton Knowles.  

 

Read more: ‘Shopping habits transforming Avonmouth’

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