Concern over the number of empty shops in Lewes has deepened, with estate agents apparently less than enthusiastic to find temporary roles for vacant sites says a town councillor.
Cllr Ashley Price, Green Party member for Priory Ward on Lewes Town Council, claimed he was told by one agent that “people like him were the bane of their life and he didn’t want his shops cluttered-up with non-retail stuff”.
Cllr Price, in tandem with Cllr Petrina Kingham, has been investigating the spate of shop closures recently and the fact that several groups within the town would love to use the vacant space for different projects, including Sussex Downs College and Intrepid Theatre. He said it was sad that estate agents appeared not to be interested in helping to make Lewes look more vibrant and seemed to prefer the shops to remain vacant. He said that as well as lowering the image of the immediate area, it left the premises at risk from fly-posters or worse.
He said there have been examples in other towns where empty shops used on a temporary basis have actually been let or sold more quickly, compared to standing vacant and boarded up.
Cllr Price said: “It is such a shame that Lewes is in real danger of looking very run-down with the number of empty properties all along the High Street. There have been some that have been in this state for nearly 18 months.
“Compare this to other local towns, where there has been a far more positive view and action taken. Surely it is better that all those responsible for those vacant shops do their bit to ensure that this trend doesn’t continue and is, eventually, reversed.” Cllr Price has called on any landlord of an empty shop who would be willing to allow their property to be used on a temporary basis to contact him on 0779 8 64 8924 .