It’s home to the most football teams in the Premier League, the first railway line and the birthplace of the modern computer. But the North West now has another association that it’s less proud of: the region with the most empty shops in the country.
From Altrincham to Workington and St Helens to Chorley, the sight of boarded up shops is becoming increasingly familiar with average vacancy rates of 20.1%.
For some time now the Empty Shops Network has seen its tentacles extend into this region, with Leeds and Manchester particularly fertile hunting grounds. In June this year we helped with High Street Revival, a conference that took place in central Manchester looking at solutions to the problem of neglected high streets.
The response from attendees showed there’s a big appetite to bring a fresh approach to the problem. Young voices like @joejamesbarratt, facilitators like @shoportunities, organisations like @playfullleeds and @eaststreetarts and indie champion @paul25ten are already working up an interesting blueprint for change.
With good collaborations already underway with these and other voices, Empty Shops Network is now looking to open a new office in Greater Manchester to start a serious commitment to the region. Borrowing from the spirit of Rochdale’s famous Pioneers – it is the UN International Year of Cooperatives after all – we’re planning some ambitious projects and looking for innovative collaborations.
If you want to get involved or be kept in touch with latest developments contact Matthew Baker.