Religious leaders have joined together in appealing to landlords to help save Bakewell from becoming a ‘clone town’.
The Association of Bakewell Christians (ABC) has written an open letter to landlords of the market town, asking them not to raise their rents in a bid to help traders.
The letter is signed by Deacon Dr David Clark, chairman of the ABC, Canon Tony Kaunhoven, of All Saints Parish Church, Father Hugh Davoren, of All Saints, Hassop, and English Martyrs, Bakewell, Reverend David Briggs, of Bakewell Methodist Church, and Chrissie Poulson, of Bakewell Society of Friends.
It states: “As leaders of the Bakewell churches we have become increasingly aware of the growing number of empty shops which are now evident throughout the town.”
It adds: “We are aware that one reason is the difficulty that some managers or shopkeepers are finding in meeting any significant increase in rents.”
The ABC went on to ask landlords to take into account the well–being of the whole of Bakewell, now and in the future, when considering raising their rents.
Dr Clark commented: “It’s been building up for quite a while in Bakewell, but particularly since the beginning of the year quite a lot of shops have pulled out.”
He said the ABC was aware of the problem through the Bakewell Community Project, in which it works closely with traders and hears their concerns. Dr Clark added that members of the business community in Bakewell had given the association positive feedback to its letter.
In response to the letter, Richard Young, chairman of Bakewell Traders, said: “Some landlords are very reasonable – it’s not all landlords that charge extortionate rents.
“But there are some landlords that think they’re going to get astronomical figures for buildings, which allows chains to take them instead of independent traders.”
He said many independent traders have a ceiling in terms of what they can afford to pay for retail space in the town.
“Not every landlord can be tarred with the same brush,” Richard said, adding that the landlord of his own Bakewell business, The Original Farmers Market Shop, was reasonable.
He commented that chains are often the only businesses which can afford the high rents in the town centre and there was a risk of Bakewell becoming a ‘clone town’ with few independent shops.
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To read the ABC’s letter in full, turn to page 16.