Park Street’s Pop-up potential
Despite being one of Bristol’s premier retail locations, Park Street is not immune to the effects of the downturn and pop-up shops and galleries are helping to maintain its vibrant street scene.
But James Edwards from Colliers International believes the latest retail phenomenon could provide longer term benefits beyond simply taking up vacant space.
The planning and heritage specialist, who has championed hard pressed high streets across the West, says every pop-up shop should be viewed as a start-up business struggling to get out.
He said: “Pop-up shops are far better than boarded up and vacant premises and ensure that even thriving areas like Park Street continue to attract all important footfall.
“Pop-up shops have the potential to become a permanent addition to the street scene and local authorities must be as pro-active as possible, looking beyond simply installing tenants in vacant premises. While charity shops make good use of empty units, pop-up shops have the potential to become established businesses in their own right.”
The Government is set to relax planning rules making it easier for landlords to change the use of an empty shop for anything up to two years. At present negotiating the red tape to push through a change of use can cost up to £1,200.
James Edwards said: “Pop-up retail represents a pragmatic and forward-thinking property solution and could even help topline shopping areas such as Park Street ride out the downturn.”
Park Street’s vibrant street scene has attracted a range of alternative pop-up operators.
“Art galleries appear to be benefitting from the pop-up phenomenon. With reduced rents and flexible leases becoming available, pop-up galleries are beginning to appear on the street. As a city rich in culture, this trend could boost Bristol’s already established art house scene.”
James Edwards said while the bustling shopping frontage towards the top of Park Street helped disguise any vacant units, footfall was not as high at the lower end and vacant units were consequently far more visible.
“At the moment visitors at Bristol’s Marriott, one of the city’s most prominent hotels, look out over a number of empty shop fronts. Pop-up shops in this area would be particularly welcome as they would transform the view from College Green and help the area remain as dynamic as possible - in keeping with the rest of Park Street.”
James Edwards stressed takeaway outlets should remain subject to the normal planning rules.
“They are more likely to operate on less sociable hours which doesn’t really help retail areas during normal opening hours. And when we do emerge from this recession there is a danger the takeaway would remain open, with the permanent loss of a retail unit.”
He concluded: “Councils have shown they are capable of pragmatic forward thinking in what is a really difficult situation. This is one way we can challenge the effects of the recession and help our high streets ride out the downturn.”
EndsIssued by Empica Ltd on behalf of Colliers International. For further information contact Martin Powell or Simon Harding on 01275 394 400.