Reinventing the high street

February 3, 2020

Paul Fairlamb, associate commercial surveyor at youngsRPS, uses a recent property sale as an example of how the high street must adapt and be open to alternative uses

The challenging trading conditions on the high street have been well documented; news of retail giants closing stores and restructuring is impossible to avoid. With tenant demand generally low, solutions for landlords and sellers have had to be creative.

“In July this year, it was reported that shop vacancy rates were at their worst since 2015, according to the British Retail Consortium and Springboard survey, empty stores stood at 10.3 per cent. Rising business rates and online spending suggests that convenience and experience have become the primary consumer motivators; the high street needs to look at alternative avenues to stay lucrative.

Retail parks and sites offering restaurants, cafes, entertainment and leisure are performing well with a 1.2 per cent increase in footfall. Why? By enhancing a consumer’s experience. A fantastic example of this is a recent transaction in Whitley Bay.

The two-storey redundant building, formerly a supermarket, was acquired by ‘Snap Fitness’ a global leisure firm, benefitting local people in search of better health and fitness. The first floor of the building has been let to JamJar Cinema, who occupy next door and eager to acquire more space; a sign that experience and leisure is the future of the high street.

The Jam Jar Cinema is the only community cinema in North Tyneside. It relies heavily on volunteers and the goodwill of local people and companies. North Tyneside Council and Start Up loans provided the initial funding to establish the business. Starting in 2011, the cinema took over the lease in Park Avenue, Whitley Bay in 2013. In their first year, 9000 people visited the cinema, but when the owner invested £60,000 in digital projection, the cinema could show the latest films, and now more than 25,000 people visit 800-plus screenings a year.

Knowing the needs of the cinema, a social enterprise company building its audience steadily, and Snap Fitness, which needed a single-story location in the centre of Whitley Bay, youngsRPS was able to bring together all the parties – and negotiate the letting of the first floor and the sale of the whole building to the fitness company.

This successful outcome for all concerned came after an earlier abortive sale to an investor had collapsed because of poor demand for retail space in the town. It is a good illustration of how owners must look at a wide range of options to secure the sale or letting of vacant property.”

youngsRPS offers services such as sales and lettings, development, property management and investment, and deal with a wide range of property types including office retail, industrial and leisure as well as advising development projects and investment strategies. For more information, call 0191 261 0300.

– Advertising feature –

Scroll to next article
Go to

10 Questions: Vee Pollock