Retail units are still empty two years on

TWO years after it opened Daventry’s newest retail park still has empty units.

But the leader of Daventry District Council says the solution is out of his hands.

The first stores on the Abbey Retail Park – the completed first part of the town’s regeneration scheme – opened two years ago in January 2009.

Although all the larger shops have remained on site since then, one of the main units has never been occupied, and the smaller stores facing Abbey Street have seen several traders come and go.

Cllr Chris Millar told the Daventry Express the problem was that the town’s growth had been dramatically slowed by the economy, and that without extra people firms were hesitant to open units.

He said: “The fact is that we were lucky to get it open before the recession really bit, and the big stores that have opened have stayed here.

“We have seen some casualties in the smaller Abbey Street shops, but it has been a really tough couple of years.

“The recession has meant that the town’s expansion has slowed.

“That’s meant there aren’t as many potential customers for firms moving here and that is something they take into account.

“We are subject to the national economic situation, even though Daventry hasn’t done too badly compared to many places, and in many ways we are ahead of the curve.

“The good thing is that when the situation does start to change and improve, we have plans in place already to take advantage of that and we have units ready and waiting.”

Planning conditions put on the type of firm allowed to use the larger unit, limiting it to ‘bulky goods retail’, have also been relaxed.

The firms marketing it produced evidence to Daventry District Council’s planners showing a series of bulky goods sellers did not feel that Daventry had enough people living and shopping here to make it worth opening a shop on the retail park.