Find out why Peterborough is ‘top of the shops’

Retailers offering must-have services unavailable online are helping to keep Peterborough ‘top of the shops’, according to a new survey.

Wednesday, 18th September 2019, 12:13 pm
Cathedral Square, which has seen a rise in coffee shops and al fresco dining.ENGEMN00120130409171519

A string of independent restaurateurs have been singled out as a key factor in the squeeze on the number of vacant units in the city centre.

Less than five per cent of the city centre’s retail units are currently empty - compared to a national average of 10 per cent.

Julian Welch, retail expert at Peterborough-based commercial agents Barker Storey Matthews, says there are just 22 vacant units in the central area’s shopping stock.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Julian Welch, retail expert at Barker Storey Matthews.

He has just completed a survey of the city centre and his findings take into account premises currently under offer to new occupiers.

Mr Welch said: “These latest statistics simply reinforce what the city’s property insiders have long known about the value and flexibility of its retail offering.

“And it’s those operators who can offer a product or a service which cannot be bought online who help keep Peterborough top of the shops.”

He says a leading role in lowering vacancy rates is being taken by independent and franchise operators in the restaurant and café sector.

For instance, the former Cumbergate premises of high street Italian chain, Carluccios, saw Tap & Tandoor open in August.

In Cowgate, Embe - a new Afro-Caribbean dining experience - opened in May and 42 Cowgate has been fitted out over the summer ahead of the opening of Heavenly Desserts.

Mr Welch said other factors driving down vacancies included the compact nature of the central shopping area, improvements carried out by Peterborough City Council and property owners and a fleixible approach by landlords to the type of retail occupier looking to ‘set up shop,’

Financial incentives also play a major role such as a 100 per cent business rates relief for all small business occupiers with a rateable value below £12,000 plus a 33 per cent reduction in all retail premises’ business rates bills which have a rateable value below £51,000.

Mr Welch says the low rate of retail property vacancies can also be seen in Werrington, Bretton, Hampton and the Lincoln Road and in the Orton Centre.