Traders see Red as the ‘Thee Rs’ take the Gloss off Bristol’s Golden Mile

Posted on 26 May, 2015 by admin

Although the situation on the high street has improved slightly since the end of the recession, small retail businesses in town and city centres are still facing pressure from a number of factors which analysts claim are stifling growth. This is particularly the case in Bristol, where specialists from property agent Bruton Knowles claim the “Three R’s” – rates, road works and Resident Parking Zones (RPZs) – are causing trade to fall on the city centre’s Whiteladies Road.


Head of office at Bruton Knowles in Bristol, Paul Matthews (pictured), claims that the combination of rising costs and falling trade are undermining small retail and leisure companies on the city’s so called “Golden Mile.” He is calling for the city council to intervene and provide more support for firms in this situation before more ground is lost to larger national competitors.

Mr Matthews says; “It’s clear to many, Whiteladies Road has lost something of its appeal. According to the clients we are speaking to the ‘Three Rs’ has got a lot to do with this. We are seeing an increasing imbalance as café bar businesses come and go – while long established shops simply go.”

Although an upcoming business rates system review, announced by the Government before the General Election, may ease the pressure upon smaller retailers in the coming years, it may be of little comfort to those struggling to remain afloat at present.

Businesses in this situation, Mr Matthews points out, are relying upon significantly high footfall levels to make ends meet in the near future, yet long term road works and newly created RPZs are restricting access for both shoppers and staff, meaning many consumers are instead turning to out of town retail parks.

Yet Mr Matthews points out that traders can take advantage of the current situation as a means of recouping some of their business rates costs.

He continues; “At least the roadworks will provide traders with an opportunity to claim for a temporary reduction in their rateable values If affected businesses act quickly the disturbance to their trade can be reflected in the Rateable Value of the properties and hence the rates payable. Although we all recognise that these works are vital, the associated road closures and lack of access can seriously affect business profits.”

Unfortunately, though, Mr Matthews also indicates that the lack of diversity of retail and leisure businesses on Whiteladies Road may spell further problems in the future, especially as consumers now look for a much wider range of activities during a trip to the shops. Along with having a detrimental effect upon the city centre, he warns, this could lead to a downturn in the local commercial property market.

He concludes; “In the longer term, the mix of traders and wider appeal of Whiteladies Road needs to be improved, as well as enabling shoppers to spend time at the location. Otherwise, the quality of the pitch will decline leading to a drop in retail property values and alternative uses potentially changing the face of the road.”

Story: Kirsten Kennedy

Photo: Bruton Knowles

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