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Number of empty business premises in York rises by 30%
THE number of empty business premises in York has increased by 30 per cent in the last four years, figures show.
City of York Council statistics reveal that on average there were 688 shops, offices, warehouses and other business premises standing vacant in 2011, compared with 530 in 2008.
But business leaders have defended the city, saying it retained a diverse offering with many shops celebrating milestone anniversaries in the city and many sectors “standing strong”.
So far this year, the number of empty businesses month-on-month has fluctuated between 648 and 697 However, the rate at which empty premises are increasing has significantly slowed – after a leap from 530 in 2008 to 682 in 2009, numbers stood at 683 in 2010 and at 688 in 2011.
Len Cruddas, interim chief executive of Leeds, York and North Yorkshire Chamber of Commerce, said he believed many sectors, such as retail, were standing strong in York.
He said: “It feels to me that there are quite a few businesses doing well in York at the moment.
“The overall picture in York is strong and it compares favourably to the rest of the country. The underlying strength of York is its diversity – there’s lots going on over a range of sectors.”
Ian Floyd, director of customer and business support services at the city council, said: “The Centre For Cities report 2011 listed York as the third fastest growing city in the UK and our figures for registered business-rated properties reflects this, with a significant increase across the city since 2007.
“We have also seen a fall in empty business premises since this time last year.”
Statistics indicate York has been relatively unscathed by the recession compared to other parts of the country. Earlier this year The Press reported how York city centre has a retail vacancy rate of less than ten per cent compared with a UK average of 17.2 per cent.
Rohan, the British outdoor clothing brand, is celebrating 21 years in the city this weekend.
Gary Sutemire, the store manager in Stonegate, said: “Other than last year we have had year-on-year growth here in York. We have bucked the trend other businesses have seen.
“I think York is quite robust. I have noticed an influx of overseas tourists over the last two years, which has added to our success.”