A community owned regeneration organisation has tacked the problem of empty shops head on, providing space for new businesses and bringing empty property back into use.
Holyhead's high street was hit hard by the economic downturn in 2007/2008 and by the closure of major industries. By 2009, four out of 10 shops were vacant, the highest vacancy rate in the UK. The Plas Cybi Partnership, a community-owned regeneration organisation, approached owners of vacant shops to discuss rent-free periods for vacant shops. The aim was to implement quick fixes in vacant units, both internally and externally, and working in collaboration with the County Council and Enterprise Agency to attract entrepreneurs into the town centre. This was helped by Plas Cybi’s charitable status, which could ensure business rate relief of up to 80%.
In the first year, six vacant shops were secured for the initiative and three of these were offered rent free for between 6 months and a year. By the end of 2011 five new businesses were created, bringing life back into the centre of the town. Plans are underway to bring another 8 vacant premises back into use. Demand for premises is high with locals keen to take up premises with low rents and rates and the project has received positive feedback from local people.