Shops close as rents rise in Welwyn Garden City
A WEEK doesn't seem to go by without news of the demise of yet another business in Times Territory. With quarterly rents payments due on commercial properties this week, many businesses have either been forced to close or find new premises as the recession
A WEEK doesn't seem to go by without news of the demise of yet another business in Times Territory.
With quarterly rents payments due on commercial properties this week, many businesses have either been forced to close or find new premises as the recession continues to bite.
Passers by will no doubt notice the newly vacated unit on Howardsgate, WGC, where cookware specialist Colanders used to be.
The store closed after the company went into voluntary liquidation.
A source close to Colanders said the proposed rent increase had been a major contribution to their departure, as well as a rates increase in excess of �17,000, falling footfall and the uncertainty surrounding the proposed Sainsbury's development.
Design company Prontaprint, which used to rent a unit from Sainsbury's on Howardsgate, has now split its operations between St Albans and the Weltech Business Centre in Ridgeway, WGC.
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When asked whether increased rent was a factor in the move, Richard Tranfield, manager of Prontaprint in St Albans, said: "Yes, very much so."
John Stafford-Mills, spokesman for Sainsbury's, said: "Sainsbury's is committed to working with our partner businesses to ensure occupancy rates are kept high.
"We believe market rents in WGC remain competitive and reflect well on the town as an attractive place both to live in and to visit for shopping.
"We are working with the council to achieve planning permission to redevelop and enlarge the town centre Sainsbury's store, as well as regenerating the Church Road and Wigmores South areas.
"This should make a positive contribution to the vibrancy of the town centre, attracting more people and creating wealth for the town's shops and services."
Bill Menzies, who owns music store City Sounds, in Wigmores South, WGC, was one of the few independent traders the WHT spoke to who owned the property he sells from.
"From a landlord's perspective, I would prefer a property with a tenant in than a property without one," he said.
"But some landlords are charging unrealistic rents, which is provable by the fact I'm surrounded by about six or seven empty units at the moment."
Mr Menzies added: "We've got rents going up, rates going up, and we're getting very little support from anywhere. It's highly unlikely people are going to rent property here.
"I'm very concerned for the future of WGC town centre.