Padiham on a roll as shops fill up fast

PADIHAM has bucked the national trend by halving the number of empty shops in the town in just nine months.

Town centre manager Tony Fitzgerald said only 14 of the town’s 155 retail units were vacant during a survey in October, down from 31 at the beginning of 2013.

The vacancy rate of around nine per cent is well below the regional average, 12.4 per cent, and the national figure of 11.1 percent.

The turnaround, led by the Padiham Town Team, could be bolstered further if a bid for £1m of Heritage Lottery Fund money is successful next year.

Mr Fitzgerald said he hoped to halve the vacancy rate in in the next six months.

He added: “There are a few more units likely to be let from January. Another new shop has just opened opposite Blockbuster selling ladies’ clothes.

“The Blockbuster unit is going to auction and there’s been lots of interest in it.

“Seven or eight shops are being refurbished or up for let, so the upward trend should continue.

“There are a couple of pubs included in the vacancy figures, which is a bit of a blow and is slightly misleading.”

Coun Shah Hussain, Burnley Council’s executive member for regeneration and economic development, said: “This is marvellous news and reflects a real turnaround.

“It shows what can be done by supporting local businesses and it’s the result of a lot of hard work. It couldn’t have been done without the backing of shopkeepers and businesses.

Sorrel Holland, who chaired Padiham Town Team until last month and is a director of Physiofusion in Burnley Road, said: “This is great news, especially in the run-up to Christmas. A lot of hard work by businesses and the council has paid off and the town centre is looking better than ever.”

Shops which opened in the town this year include the Picture House Gallery, Art and Soul and the Original Factory Shop.

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