Council chiefs urge Preston property owners to help them to fill empty shops
Preston City Council chiefs have urged property owners to help "breathe new life into empty shops".
The move comes as Debenhams in the Fishergate Centre is due to finally close its doors tomorrow (Wednesday).
It is not known what will replace it, or whether the empty units will be filled separately.
Experts say that high streets will probably have to change forever in the wake of the pandemic and closures, relying less on retail.
Coun Peter Moss, Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning and Regulation at Preston City Council, said: “Since businesses and hospitality have begun to reopen Preston has enjoyed a strong city centre footfall with encouraging signs for retail businesses.
"Our high street, like many around the country, has sadly seen a number of high profile departures over the past year including Debenhams which has greatly impacted the former staff of these businesses.
“At this stage we aren’t aware of any plans for the former Debenhams site in the Fishergate Shopping Centre. However, we are working hard with local and national bodies such as the Business Improvement District and the Government’s High Street Task Force to re-examine and re-balance the role of the high street to ensure it flourishes."
He added: “We hope our award winning City Living Strategy, the City Investment Plan and our successful Towns Fund bid will contribute to the successful recovery of the high street, but we need everyone including landlords and property owners to play their part and explore new ways of working to encourage exciting and innovative entrepreneurs to breathe new life into empty shops.”
The Debenhams brand was bought by North West-based online retailer Boohoo earlier this year.
But it did not take on its shops, leading to the closures of branches in Preston, Blackpool and Wigan among others, and the loss of around 12,000 jobs.