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Tuesday, 02 September 2014

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Team wants to breathe new life into high street

WHITEHAVEN’S main shopping street is set to become ‘open house’ for business – not just retail shops.

The aim is to fill up King Street’s empty shops and also aid Whitehaven's ambition for Mary Queen of Shop’s status.

The town is in the running for coveted Mary Portas status which it is hoped would go a long way towards breathing new life into the town on top of regeneration schemes.

And members of the Whitehaven Town Team were on King Street on Saturday, spreading the word about the Mary Portas bid and asking shoppers for their support.

Only 12 English towns will receive one of the places.

After consultations, Copeland Council has finally decided to relax its rules and allow a wider range of businesses to trade on King Street, once known as the town’s ‘golden mile’ for shopping.

Now there is a chance for financial/professional services along with cafes and restaurants to become part of the town’s shopping scene.

Those already on King Street were there before the policy was introduced which has since restricted King Street to retail shops.

Copeland Council Executive member George Clements said: “Properties have been standing empty for long periods, relaxing the rules will help fill the gaps and also assist our bid for Mary Portas status.”

The original ‘shops-only’ policy was to promote and protect King Street's character by restricting ground floor use of premises.

But concerns over the number of empty shops has led to the re-think and general agreement that the rules are relaxed.

However there will be controls.

One will be that non-retail uses make up no more than 25 per cent of King Street's two sections and another is that two businesses of the same non-retail type should not be allowed to set up next to each other.

Where a shop has been empty for at least six months and has been marketed for retail use at a reasonable price then the council will consider change of use for financial/professional services, restaurants or cafes.

Bringing premises back into commercial use is designed to generate 'footfall' and create more vibrancy on the street.

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