Free rates deal in Blackburn's empty shops

A flashback to artist Richard Tymon displaying his work in the ‘Blackburn is Open’ shop

A flashback to artist Richard Tymon displaying his work in the ‘Blackburn is Open’ shop

First published in News Blackburn Citizen: Photograph of the Author by , Local government reporter

BLACKBURN business bosses have welcomed borough plans to give creative new and small businesses tak-ing up empty shops in the town centre a year free of rates.

Borough finance chief Andy Kay launched a three- week consultation for the ground-breaking scheme on Monday night, as part of the ‘Blackburn is Open’ initiative.

Addressing a meeting of Blackburn and Darwen’s company bosses and trad-ers, he said eligible enterp-rises taking an empty shop unit in Blackburn town centre would be able to get a discount of up to 100per cent on their business rates from April 1.

Chamber of Trade boss Tony Duckworth said it was a good idea, provided it was part of a wider package.

Rafik Adam, chief executive of Enterprise4All, welcomed the move, but said it had to cover young people starting up firms in the digital and web-based industries.

Coun Kay said the ‘Business Rates Incentive’ would see new, or expanding, businesses in the town centre benefitting from the discount for 12 months.

He revealed that the designated area for the scheme would cover Sudell Cross, Blakey Moor, Northgate and King William Street, with a higher-than-average concentration of empty, mainly retail, properties.

This proposed local scheme will operate alongside any other rate reliefs on offer. Only vacant propert-ies within the designated zone, with rates bills of up to £10,000, will be eligible.

The council has occupied three properties so far with its pop-up cinema, the ‘Blackburn is Open’ shop, and rehoming the Rebound bookshop.

Coun Kay said: “The Council is determined to build a vibrant, creative community in the town centre and fill the empty shops in the town centre.

“The proposed discount on business rates is aimed at giving these new and exciting businesses a helping hand during their first year.

“We are looking at arts, crafts and creative entrepreneurs, especially the young. That will include the new digital and web-based sectors.

“We want our bright and creative young people to stay in the borough.”

Views can be given by email to regeneration@ blackburn.gov.uk or in writing to Julia Simpson, Blackburn with Darwen Borough Council, at the Old Town Hall, Blackburn.

The deadline is Friday, February 21.

Comments (6)

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3:53pm Wed 5 Feb 14

oldblue says...

What has taken the council so long to react to the death of Blackburn as a shopping centre? It has been in seemingly terminal decline for years .
What has taken the council so long to react to the death of Blackburn as a shopping centre? It has been in seemingly terminal decline for years . oldblue
  • Score: 4

4:59pm Wed 5 Feb 14

abetterblackburn says...

Very sad to say but shopping on the internet is much preferred. Shopping centres always reflect the areas living environment and Blackburn has become time warped and culturally disturbed. All that was interesting in Blackburn was where the shopping centre now stands and it‘s art gallery and museum down a side street somewhere. Hardly a place for outsiders to want to visit is it? But for some odd reason despite having similar life styles and industrial history both Preston and Bolton have much to be preferred. Go and have a look at both Preston‘s and Bolton’s art galleries to see something worth looking at!
Very sad to say but shopping on the internet is much preferred. Shopping centres always reflect the areas living environment and Blackburn has become time warped and culturally disturbed. All that was interesting in Blackburn was where the shopping centre now stands and it‘s art gallery and museum down a side street somewhere. Hardly a place for outsiders to want to visit is it? But for some odd reason despite having similar life styles and industrial history both Preston and Bolton have much to be preferred. Go and have a look at both Preston‘s and Bolton’s art galleries to see something worth looking at! abetterblackburn
  • Score: 5

6:19pm Wed 5 Feb 14

denidenideni says...

Too late for Blackburn
Just stand on Darwen street and watch the hordes of students around the take aways at lunch time, watch the drinkers and dossers walking around the town centre during the day with cans of alcohol in their hands when decent people are at work and paying their taxes to keep all these people on Blackburn streets.
Too late for Blackburn, throw good money down the drain.
Too late for Blackburn Just stand on Darwen street and watch the hordes of students around the take aways at lunch time, watch the drinkers and dossers walking around the town centre during the day with cans of alcohol in their hands when decent people are at work and paying their taxes to keep all these people on Blackburn streets. Too late for Blackburn, throw good money down the drain. denidenideni
  • Score: 6

7:27pm Wed 5 Feb 14

M.DANNY says...

Blackburn is in terrible decline over the last twenty years.The council should have helped the small business with business rates and rents .Parking is another issue allowing free parking in some areas of the town would help.
Blackburn need more eateries pubs and quality restaurants and a hotel like the ones in Bolton and Preston.
Mall Shopping centre too has many shop units empty and needs to attract more big name stores to Blackburn then more folks would come down to Blackburn for shopping. Lack of choices is the reason more folks heading to Preston, Bolton and Manchester.
When I was a young lad back in 1960s and 1970s, Blackburn town centre was thriving place with markets pubs eateries cinemas discos now all that has disappeared.
Blackburn is in terrible decline over the last twenty years.The council should have helped the small business with business rates and rents .Parking is another issue allowing free parking in some areas of the town would help. Blackburn need more eateries pubs and quality restaurants and a hotel like the ones in Bolton and Preston. Mall Shopping centre too has many shop units empty and needs to attract more big name stores to Blackburn then more folks would come down to Blackburn for shopping. Lack of choices is the reason more folks heading to Preston, Bolton and Manchester. When I was a young lad back in 1960s and 1970s, Blackburn town centre was thriving place with markets pubs eateries cinemas discos now all that has disappeared. M.DANNY
  • Score: 9

8:58pm Wed 5 Feb 14

woolywords says...

Crikey Bill, bit late with this article, aren't you?

Whilst I welcome this plan, I just can't help feeling that it is a little too late to be doing this now. As mentioned in my submission this morning, in the comments section under another headline, the chance of creating little businesses has passed this council by, years ago. That said, I really won't mind a slice of humble pie, with or without custard, if I'm proved wrong.
Say if someone were to set up a college course book, swap-shop cafe, with wi-fi, am sure it may to turn out to be a little goldmine.
Crikey Bill, bit late with this article, aren't you? Whilst I welcome this plan, I just can't help feeling that it is a little too late to be doing this now. As mentioned in my submission this morning, in the comments section under another headline, the chance of creating little businesses has passed this council by, years ago. That said, I really won't mind a slice of humble pie, with or without custard, if I'm proved wrong. Say if someone were to set up a college course book, swap-shop cafe, with wi-fi, am sure it may to turn out to be a little goldmine. woolywords
  • Score: 0

8:49am Fri 7 Feb 14

Joseph O'M says...

Where on earth is the pop up cinema? I emailed Blackburn is Open and got no response, and there's no publicity on it anywhere...
Where on earth is the pop up cinema? I emailed Blackburn is Open and got no response, and there's no publicity on it anywhere... Joseph O'M
  • Score: 0

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