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Rent free deal for Yarmouth shops

PUBLISHED: 15:35 11 June 2009 | UPDATED: 14:09 03 July 2010

Some of East Norfolk Sixth Form College's BTEC National Diploma girls

Some of East Norfolk Sixth Form College's BTEC National Diploma girls

Entrepreneurs wanting to start up a retail business are to be offered a rent-free deal in a pioneering initiative to turn around the fortunes of an ailing shopping centre.

Entrepreneurs wanting to start up a retail business are to be offered a rent-free deal in a pioneering initiative to turn around the fortunes of an ailing shopping centre.

In recent years, the once-thriving Victoria Arcade, on the edge of Yarmouth town centre, has gone into a spiral of decline that has seen a large exodus of traders and the appearance of many empty shop units.

Now the borough council's business development and support arm, EnterpriseGY, has reached a 12-month agreement with centre owner Miller Property to provide - quite literally - a shop window for new business.

Six of the arcade's 40 units are being made available to entrepren-eurs looking to start up or expand a retail business, and within weeks of the deal being signed, a number of prospective shopkeepers have already expressed interest.

Potential tenants will have to meet a number of criteria to demonstrate the viability of their business and that it fits with the ethos of the arcade.

They could then be offered a 12-week rent-free period in combination with a business support package from EnterpriseGY.

Tim Howard, the council's head of regeneration, said: “After 12 weeks, we will carry out an appraisal of the business and, if it has fledged, we will pass them over to Miller to enter into a lease on a stepped rent basis.

“If the business needs further support, there could be the possibility of a further rent-free period, or we might say 'this is not going to work' and free the unit up for another business.”

He described the scheme as a “symbiotic relationship between the council, landlords and businesses that need a leg up”.

“Very often, enterprise funding and support gets pigeon-holed towards particular business types and practical help for retail businesses, especially through help with premises, is often not available,” he said.

“We believe this model has the potential to work equally well across any area of the borough, so we will be taking a keen interest in progress and levels of success.”

Matthew Neal, property manager with Colliers, which manages the arcade for Miller, said: “Despite offering a wonderful retail setting, it is clear the arcade needs to re-establish itself as a premier town centre shopping venue supporting bespoke traders and businesses.

“We are confident the EnterpriseGY initiative will result in benefits not only to new tenants but existing ones as well. New retailers will bring in new customers as well as attracting back customers who had thought Victoria Arcade had lost its retail trading appeal - a busy, bustling centre is good news for everyone.”

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