A South Tyneside councillor is calling on landlords to play their part in reviving South Shields’ main shopping area.
Lee Hughes says rental rates in King Street are putting off potential businesses and everyone would benefit from reductions.
Some of the properties advertised would cost £50,000 a year to rent and the independent councillor says that make no sense for anyone.
He said: “Instead of asking huge sums of cash for an empty building – which still has to be maintained – it would be in everyone’s interests to ask for less.
“Even if they can’t make a profit, it’s surely better to lose a fiver than a tenner?
“At least they are more likely to attract a potential tenant.”
I’d urge the owners to lower their fees.Coun Lee Hughes
Read more: South Shields: A town centre being overtaken by ‘to let’ signs
The Putting People First representative for the Bede ward in South Shields, says it’s little wonder the area’s trade is dying because investors can’t afford the rents being asked for prime town centre locations.
Coun Hughes said: “Before you even start, you have to make sure you’re going to sell goods in the region of £20,000. That’s before you add on all of the other costs.
“People are being priced out before they sell a single thing, before they even put a foot through the door.
“Too many big names have left in recent years. We’ve seen them pull the shutters down one after the other.
“The rental prices being asked are for big brands who could have potentially made that kind of turnover.
“How is an independent business owner ever going to be able to make that kind of cash? No wonder these shops are staying empty for so long. Nobody can afford them.
Coun Hughes is hoping that the private owners of the premises will be willing to negotiate their fees to help the town centre get back to its former glory.
He said: “They are privately owned, so landlords can charge what they want.
“But some of these building have been empty for years, so the owners aren’t making anything on them and all they’re doing is falling into a state of disrepair.
“I’d urge the owners to lower their fees.”
South Tyneside Council said it did not wish to comment on the issue.
Newcastle-based property firm Lambert Smith Hampton, who are letting agents for a number of shops in King street, did not respond to the Gazette’s invitation to comment.