Empty store a blot on town

The former Store 21 premises on Lord Street, Fleetwood
The former Store 21 premises on Lord Street, Fleetwood

Frustration is mounting that a vacant shop premises which was once the most prestigious in Fleetwood has now become the biggest eyesore.

Councillors and high street traders say the former Store 21 building on Lord Street, which once housed the town’s much vaunted M&S store, is a disgrace which is letting the town down.

The building, which has been empty since clothes and gift store Store 21 closed in summer 2016, now has boarded-up windows, while others are cracked.

Three months ago it became a safety hazard when a letting sign blew off and smashed onto the pavement in windy conditions.

Coun Terry Rogers, chairman of Fleetwood Town Council, said: “It is bringing down the whole town centre. The owner needs to do something to bring it into a decent condition, before it deteriorates any further.”

Councillors would like to speak to the owners of the building but there is confusion about its ownership.

Many in the town believe that M&S, who pulled out of the town in 1986, still own it.

But M&S insists it has nothing to do with the building.

And the company which ran Store 21 only leased the building.

Wyre Council is also aware of the issue and a spokesman said this week: “There are certain planning powers that may be used to require the owner to repair, maintain, and improve the appearance of the building.

“We cannot confirm whether these powers are applicable until we have carried out an investigation.”

High street shopkeeper Carolyn Boot, who has run gift shop The Mole Hole on Lord Street for 36 years, said: “It is a public disgrace, an absolute eyesore.

“It is hard to win in our town centre, because you do your best to make your business as good as it can be, and there you have something like that.

“Our town centre desperately needs help and that shop front really isn’t helping.”

The premises are available for lease through property consultants Lambert Smith Hampton, which has not disclosed to who the owner is.

The consultants vowed to approach the owners.