Havant shopping arcade bucks the trend for empty units

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IT may be tucked away behind the main drag of the high street, but a small shopping arcade in Havant is on the up.

North Street Arcade, off North Street, has suffered over the years because it is hidden from the main shopping area but is now bucking the trend with only one empty shop out of 12.

Now former Lord Mayor of Portsmouth Elaine Baker and her son Jez have opened The Hit Squad One Stop Party Shop on the corner of the arcade.

They say it was the perfect place for them and it has brought back to life a prominent unit which had been standing empty for more than a year.

Jeff Crate, economic development team leader at Havant Borough Council, said: ‘The thing is, the rents are sensible there.

‘It’s a little bit tucked out of the way so a lot of new start ups are getting a reasonably good deal from the landlords.

‘It’s the same sort of thing that’s happening in Leigh Park.

‘It’s swings and roundabouts because you pay premium rents for premium locations but if you’re a specialist shop word gets around.

‘If you can survive the first year you’ve got a good chance.’

Mrs Baker said Havant was the perfect place for the business.

‘I grew up in Havant,’ said Mrs Baker, ‘so I know it very well.

‘We’d previously been in Widley but the rent was very high. Then we got an excellent deal here.

‘As far as I’m concerned Havant is the place to be. It’s on the up and it has great shops. People are prepared to travel to Havant because it has good transport links and parking.

‘The shop will be a boost to the town.’

Of the 12 units only one of the shops is empty which is lower than Havant’s average of one in 10.

In Leigh Park that figure rises to more than one in five.

Linda Withey is the owner of Sivyer Cycles, which has been based in the North Street Arcade for four years.

She said; ‘The Hit Squad One Stop Party Shop is in a really prominent position which helps the other businesses because people won’t just walk past and think the arcade is full of empty shops.

‘We call them chocolate boxes because they are all wrapped up.

‘New businesses bring footfall to the area which is just what we need.’

For help and advice and grant support for new business start ups go to havant.go.uk.

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