UNHAPPY traders say more should be done to stop the rate of decline in Fratton.
The message comes after retail data firm, The Local Data Company, discovered the area had the third highest percentage of empty shops in the country.
Thirty-one per cent of Fratton’s retail units are unused – a 10.1 per cent increase in the rate of decline from last year.
Only Margate, with a shop vacancy rate of 36.5 per cent, and Dudley with 32.4 per cent, are worse.
Dave Brealey, who has worked at Sweet Memories Vinyl Records, in Fratton Road, for 11 years, said: ‘Something needs to be done to attract bigger retail outlets to the area and stop the area falling into decline.
‘Fratton Road is now used most of the time as a through road.
‘It’s difficult for shoppers to come here because there’s no adequate parking facilities. We’re in an area mainly taken up by charity shops and eateries now. The area in the last 10 years has gone down.’
Brian Salt, who owns Fratton Model Centre, said: ‘The change in the area has been massive. We’ve seen the emergence of supermarkets and the volume of shops are now situated in or near The Bridge Shopping Centre.
‘The rent rates are far too high.’
Portsmouth South MP Mike Hancock said shops not selling what people want was to blame.
‘I don’t think Fratton is different to any other area in the country,’ he said.
‘It’s not that bad. We need more shops that sell what people want. And landlords would rather keep units empty then open a shop which gives them less rent.’
Liz Peace, chief executive of the British Property Federation, said: ‘We need to have a complete re-think about how vacant property could be redeveloped into new uses.
‘That will require flexibility on the part of local planning authorities.’