Planning applications for new shops in York dropped sharply, partly due to the effects of the coronavirus crisis, a new study suggests.
Research by law firm Boodle Hatfield showed the number of applications slumped from 11 to one in York. It was one of the sharpest declines in the country.
Across the UK the number fell from 3,908 to 3,037 in the past year. It’s due to the ‘catastrophic’ impact of lockdown on retail’s development pipeline, the firm said.
Meanwhile, the number of vacant shops in York rose to 57 by the end of the third quarter of 2020-2021, up from 42 the year before.
But Phil Pinder, chair of York Retail Forum, believes the city centre will bounce back – and the forum has launched a mentoring scheme to help retailers thrive.
“We already have more shops per person than almost any other country in the West, so the growth had to show at some time,” Phil told YorkMix.
“That said, there could be no better time to open a retail store, with recent high profile closures and gaps in the high street landlords are keen to do deals.”
As well as the mentoring scheme, the forum will soon launch a dedicated portal on opening a retail space in York.
“As we approach the end of lockdown, the expected boost of UK holidays, and days out on top of our loyal local population, the High Street in York is very much here for the long term,” Phil said.
Simon Williams, of Boodle Hatfield, said: “The various lockdowns have been catastrophic to the retail sector, causing developers to cut their retail development pipeline.
“Retail sector insolvencies are causing a massive increase in unused space, that is going to take some time to refill.
“Switching some of that space from retail uses is going to be part of the solution to that problem.”
He suggested some could be turned into homes.