ADUR has a ‘chronic shortage’ of business space, a senior councillor has warned.
District council cabinet member for regeneration Pat Beresford told councillors last week that vacant industrial space was as low as 1.5 per cent.
He said: “In Adur we have a chronic shortage of business premises.
“The economic regeneration team has daily enquiries from companies looking for commercial premises in Adur.
“There isn’t an abundance of empty business premises in the district and there certainly isn’t an abundance of empty premises in Adur and Lancing.”
The remarks were in response to a public question from Lancing resident Lee Cowen about the health of the local economy.
Mr Cowen was primarily concerned by the number of empty shops in Lancing village centre.
He said the area around the station was a ‘mess’ and asked what policies were in the local plan to address the issue.
Mr Beresford, also chairman of regeneration group Lancing Vision, said it was difficult to address, as the council did not own the shops and were not the landlords.
He hinted, however, that the Vision board was exploring ways to encourage uptake of empty shops through a fund previously earmarked for improving the street scene.
Frances Smith, of Lancing Regeneration, said the main issue was high rates, dissuading uptake of vacant units.
She said: “There are some empty shops but the council have got their hands tied because they are owned by landlords.
“I couldn’t even clear off the disgusting writing on the Luxor because it would have been classed as trespass.
“The rates are absolutely ridiculous in Lancing. People won’t take up a small shop when it is not a busy centre any more and they will be hit with about £12,000 rent. It is just bonkers.”
Mr Beresford addressed the wider health of the business community in his answer to Mr Cowen, providing statistics for commercial space across Adur.
Available B-class floorspace stands at 2.1 per cent, industrial floorspace at 1.5 per cent and office space 6.3 per cent.
Figures across the board were even lower for Lancing Business Park, at 0.6 per cent, 0.5 per cent and 2.7 per cent respectively.
The local plan, discussed by full council last week, sets out a series of economic policies to protect commercial units.
The authority will resist applications to convert commercial premises on key employment sites.