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Charity loses in shop rent hike

PUBLISHED: 18:11 31 January 2008 | UPDATED: 10:23 03 July 2010

Liz Coates

LANDLORDS looking to cash in on a new optimism in Great Yarmouth's town centre could be pricing smaller shops out of the market in the rush for retail space, it emerged this week.

LANDLORDS looking to cash in on a new optimism in Great Yarmouth's town centre could be pricing smaller shops out of the market in the rush for retail space, it emerged this week.

For the first time, rents in Market Gates have exceeded those in King Street, traditionally the town's prime shopping hub and the home of Marks and Spencer and River Island, with a multi-million pound extension adding value to units on that side of town.

But this week the Market Place's Help the Aged charity shop found itself on the flip side of the boom with a 30pc rent hike leaving closure its only option.

Manager Christine Turner, from Caister, said the 20-strong team of paid and volunteer workers was “gutted” to be shutting on February 9 after 10 years in the town, building a loyal and friendly customer base.

Town centre manager Jonathan Newman said the key corner site would see an increase in passing trade when Iceland opened at the opposite corner to the Troll Cart public house.

Meanwhile, the welcome return of Debenhams is touted as key to the town's regeneration with other high street names hoping to profit in its slipstream.

Mr Newman said landlords who had probably been sitting on their properties for years waiting for the tide to turn in Yarmouth were now seeing an opportunity and that although there were still plenty of empty properties they would probably become few and far between.

He said: “No disrespect to Help the Aged but the truth is that Yarmouth has more than its fair share of charity shops. Given that the demand for retail space has not been what landlords have wanted, they have welcomed charity shops in the absence of any more commercial enterprises willing to pay more.

“Landlords are seeing opportunities that were not there before. The make-up of the town centre will change over the next few months.

“An empty unit in Market Gates has not stayed empty for long and it is interesting that Carphone Warehouse now has a shop in town and out of town.”

Meanwhile, Mrs Turner praised the efforts of the four paid staff and 16 volunteers saying they had all done “such a good job” and that she would “employ every single one of them” if she could.

She said the shop had been much more than a workplace to her. She stressed it had been “bobbing along nicely” and that the closure was nothing to do with takings.

Volunteer Jay Gonsalves said he was angry that a shop that did so much for the community helping to free older people from poverty, isolation and neglect, was having to close.

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