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Town centre is thriving – just 12 vacancies as Frome bucks the national trend

AS high streets across England struggle with more and more empty shops each week, Frome has bucked the national trend. A recent survey has shown that Frome has nearly half the number of empty shops as the average high street.

Result collected by the Local Data Company showed that 11.7% of shops in England are unoccupied, whereas only 6.3% lie empty in Frome. Just 12 of the  town’s 188 stores were recorded as empty when the survey was conducted in December last year.

Furthermore, a spokesperson for Frome Town Council said that a number of the empty premises in the town are expected to be occupied in the near future, which will bring the total down even further.

Leader of Frome Town Council, cllr Mel Usher said, “It is great to hear that the vacancy level is so low. This clearly demonstrates that Frome town centre is holding its own as a destination, and for homegrown shopping.

“Hopefully the investment we have made in The Frome Independent, Frome Festival, the Cheese & Grain, our promotion of the town, and soon further investment in the Market Place, has played a part in generating more footfall.

“Much of the success is due to local retailers/pub and café owners, who all work hard to keep Frome vibrant and busy and we should salute them.

“We shouldn’t, however, be complacent; all aspects of a town centre now need managing. Harking back to the past or the status quo will not do. Town centres need to be exciting, varied, safe, clean and easily accessible – all of which we are working on.”

Unfortunately despite Frome’s impressive score, it didn’t make it into the highest rankings. Debden, Essex, and Highgate, London both boasted a vacancy rate of 0%.

The study also showed that the vacancy rates continue to firmly divide the north and south of England. Nine out of the ten worst performing towns were either in the West Midlands or North West regions, whereas the majority of those with the lowest vacancy rates were in the South West, London or the South East.

More information about the survey can be found by searching ‘vacancy report h2 summary 2014’.

• What do you think of Frome town centre and the range of shops? Email