‘We can’t stop charity shops opening in town’

Too many?: One of the charity shops on Hough Lane, Leyland
Too many?: One of the charity shops on Hough Lane, Leyland
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A high street shopper has criticised the number of charity shops on Leyland’s Hough Lane.

The Guardian reader claimed South Ribble Council should do more to support independent businesses in the town, rather than encouraging charity shops to open.

He told the Guardian that a vacant property on Hough Lane is set to become another charity shop, adding: “I realise charities have to make money, but this one will make six in total on or around Hough Lane.

“Since they receive preferential rents/rates it’s impossible for small businesses to compete.

“Surely if our council is sincere in wanting our high street back, they must restrict the number of charity shops opening on any given road?”

Charity shops get an 80 per cent discount on business rates, which is set nationally, and South Ribble Council says it has no power to stop charity shops from opening, as they don’t require planning permission if they take over a building which was previously used as a shop.

However, Coun Phil Smith, cabinet member for regeneration, leisure and healthy communities, said the council was doing all it could to boost the high street in the town, and maintained that charity shops have a big part to play in that.

He said: “Charity shops have a role to play in helping to keep people using the town centre.

“They allow unwanted goods to be recycled while at the same time supporting a good cause, and I would much prefer to see a shop occupied by a charity than standing empty and not in use.

“It’s really important our town centres remain attractive and vibrant, and I would encourage our residents to play their part by supporting our local shops wherever possible.”

He revealed that around 10 per cent of shops in Leyland town centre, which includes Hough Lane, Towngate and Chapel Brow, were vacant at the most recent count carried out by the council in October last year, which is slightly below the national average.

He added: “The council is a big supporter of our town centres and we invest a great deal of time, effort and money to help them stay vibrant and successful, working with local shops and businesses.

“We have established a Leyland Town Team which has some exciting plans for the town, including a fantastic community market and a campaign to tell more people outside the town what’s happening in Leyland.”

- What do you think? Email your views to kay.taylor@lep.co.uk