PHOTO SPECIAL: These are the 16 empty shops in the heart of Chichester - what businesses would you like to see bring them to life again?

Chichester is one of the most attractive cathedral cities in the world – with an historically vibrant centre marked out by four streets heading in their four compass directions. But there are too many empty shops in the heart of the city as our photographs reveal.

Each one of the 16 prime sites are located in North, East and West Street. Now, Sussex World and the Chichester Observer are calling on the community to work together to identify and attract new businesses to occupy them.

So what firms would you like to see move to Chichester? Tell us at [email protected] and we will work with groups that have the best interests of Chichester at heart like the BID and the district council to try to bring them here.

High rates and rents as well as endless traffic congestion have no doubt contributed to the vacant premises as well as financial challenges facing some of the bigger chains as a result of the pandemic and more on-line shopping. The A27 is a virtual car park now at critical times of the day.

We are not suggesting that the position in Chichester is any worse than any other city centre – and viewed across the UK our city remains far more economically active than many. We are all hugely proud of Chichester and the shops that continue to flourish – but our target must be to eliminate any empty building.

That the old Army and Navy/House of Fraser site directly opposite the proud cathedral is a commercial tragedy – there is an urgent need for this prime location to be revitalised.

In other cases, the empty premises are the result of relocations within the city such as Cross and Hamblin in North Street and Sports Direct.

In coming weeks we will also be focussing on those shops that aren't empty – and asking what makes them successful and why you should support them.

Let's work together to make a real difference.

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