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Mixed Fortunes For Small Stores - Sheffield

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ALMOST one in five shops are empty in some neighbourhood centres around Sheffield - but other areas are thriving, council statistics have revealed.

The disparity has been highlighted by Sheffield Council as it carries out a consultation about what improvements should be made to local shopping areas.

Among the worst-hit are Abbeydale Road and London Road, where there are 29 empty units out of 168 - a vacancy rate of 17 per cent.

Vacancies on the street are traditionally high but businesses believe they have been hit further by a combination of the recession and expansion of firms such as Tesco, which has opened convenience stores.

Pharmacist Shakeel Rehman said: "A lot of it's to do with big multiples driving small businesses out."

He added: "Where you've got a big number of shops, you have more footflow, whereas here it's declining due to empty shops."

Paul Smith, from Hadfield Electrical, on Abbeydale Road, added: "There used to be a good butcher's, a fishmonger's, a bakery and a card shop. I think it's down to the big stores."

He said parking restrictions, which include a ban on parking on main roads during the morning and evening, were having an impact.

The Highfield Permit Parking Zone forces shoppers to pay to park on side streets off London Road - although the council is bringing in 15 minutes' free parking.

Just a couple of miles away, business is thriving on Ecclesall Road where six of 159 shops are empty - four per cent.

Nick Evans, who owns Mookau gift shop, said: "Ecclesall Road has got a lot of independent shops and that's really important. If there are lots of shops, then people will come. Our shop is not that big - so people probably aren't making special journeys to come and see us. But because there are lots of other shops, it makes it attractive."

Sheffield Council deputy leader Coun David Baker said: "We've got to create the economic atmosphere and environment to encourage use of local centres. To do this, we have to consider what makes a thriving area - looking not just at shops but transport, schools, dentists and doctors."

I'd be interested to see a these figures in full. Is there any historical data to show if these figures are as bad as it's made out to be.

Ecclesall Road is quite a trendy area and has a large student population on it's doorstep. Abbeydale Road is awful.

Have a look at Abbeydale Road via goolemaps This is starting at the middle.

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