New figures from Oxford City Council shows Oxford city centre has fewer empty shops and the number of vacant retail units looks set for a significant fall.
Latest figures on vacant units
The Council’s audit shows the total number of vacant units at 65. This makes the September 2019 percentage figure 11.2% of 581 total units. In March 2019, the percentage of vacant units was 12.4% (a total of 72 out of 579 ground floor units).
The Council has been working with landlords and agents on a city centre vacant units project, which started with an audit of currently empty units. The audit notes that of the 65 vacant units, 17 are either close to terms on a new tenancy or currently occupied on a short term pop-up basis, and a further 16 are under development and so not currently available to let.
Council’s “meanwhile use” approach
The Council’s city centre management team is working with landlords and agents of the currently remaining 32 vacant units to explore the possibility of short term pop-up or ‘meanwhile’ uses while work continues on renting them out.
City centre investments
As well as renewed lettings activity, Oxford city centre is also seeing significant investment in the period following the opening of the £440m Westgate centre. This includes:
- The £36m Northgate scheme on Cornmarket / Market Street by Jesus College
- The £3.1m investment by Oxford City Council in The Covered Market
- Development and renovation work at the former NatWest Bank and Mitre sites on High Street
- The new Courtyard by Marriott hotel on Paradise Street and the new Premier Inn being built in Paradise Square
- Plus refurbishment works by incoming shop or restaurant tenants including on Cornmarket and Queen Street, in the Clarendon Centre and Gloucester Green, and on High Street.
Mary Clarkson, Cabinet Member for Culture and City Centre said “City centres are facing a challenging business environment across the UK, but Oxford is doing well in tough times. Today’s figures are testament to the hard work being done by the landlords and agents of vacant Oxford city centre units to reach agreement with new occupiers. Their willingness to work with the Council to explore potential meanwhile use options, and offers from local businesses and organisations to improve the look of empty units, is key to keeping footfall up to help secure long term leases and keep the centre thriving.”