The owner of Accrington’s Victorian Arcade is hopeful things will improve following a recent decline in occupancy rates.
The iconic Grade II-listed arcade, on Warner Street, currently has four vacant adjacent units on the walk-through section of the arcade, with just five tenants remaining.
The situation is in contrast to August 2016 when the arcade celebrated full occupancy after being taken over by businessman Tariq Aslam’s firm TNR Developments in October 2013.
Mr Aslam told the Observer he had received expression of interest from potential businesses and was hopeful that things would improve, but admitted there had a been a ‘bit of a slump’.
He said: “We have four unoccupied units on one side of the arcade but we’re working hard to get people in and I’ve had expressions of interest from prospective tenants.
“I think Accrington should celebrate its uniqueness as a small market town with good independent shops. The town centre improvements as they are I don’t think will achieve that.
“I think the so called improvements are only serving to cut off the arcade and fitting the new bus station into a shoebox space hasn’t helped too.”
In 2011 the arcade was left with nine empty units after traders moved out and one major retailer downgraded from six units to one, prior to Mr Aslam’s acquisition.
Arcade traders admit times have been better, but some remain upbeat about its future prospects.
Chris Rowlings, who occupies several of the Warner Street Arcade units with his furniture business Choices, is one of the longest serving independent traders in Accrington having been there 25 years.
He said: “Yes there are four empty units here, but you could say the same about other areas and shopping arcades in the town centre.
“In my time here I’ve seen trade much better and also worse. At one time my business would generate enough for five or six wages but now it’s down to three.”
Anne Ireland, who runs Annie’s Furniture and Collectables from the Church Street side of the arcade, says the location for her business is good.
She said: “We get good footfall and I like the architecture and feel of the arcade.
“It’s a gem.
“But we have issues with loading and unloading because we have a taxi rank in front operating at all hours.”