'It feels like tomb town' - Why does Plymouth have so many empty shops?

  • Watch Sam Blackledge's report

Plymouth has more empty shops than almost every other major city in the UK, according to a new survey.

This comes as council leaders say the city is facing an unprecedented financial challenge. Budget cuts worth more than 37-million-pounds are being considered which could impact children's social care, bus services and parking charges.

The retail sector is continuing to struggle from Covid shutdowns, and shoppers are faced with the challenge of the ongoing cost of living crisis, many units in the city centre are without a tenant.

But it's hoped that new plans to revitalise Armada Way could solve the problem.

The city centre manager says Plymouth is 'in a period of transition'. Credit: ITV News

City centre manager Steve Hughes told ITV West Country: 'We are in a period of transition, we have got quite a lot of empty units in the city centre, but we have got quite a bit of city centre, probably about the size of Liverpool with half the population. We will probably never fill all of those empty units again.'

New research by tech firm Property Inspect has found Plymouth has the fourth highest number of empty shops of the 50 cities and towns investigated.

The city has 11.45 empty properties per 100,000 residents, behind Hull, Stoke on Trent and Walsall.

Mr Hughes said: 'What we're looking to do is find new uses for the city centre, and we've got an awful lot of work and investment going on.'

The Armada Way area will undergo a multi-million pound regeneration. Credit: Plymouth City Council

Old Town Street and New George Street are being regenerated, with Armada Way to follow.

Warrick Swift, commercial director of Property Inspect who authored the report, said: 'The changes in the data between 2021 and 2022 show that owners of retail businesses are finding it increasingly difficult to maintain a physical presence on our high streets.

'However, the recovery of the high street will not be a fast process and further challenges such as rising interest rates and skyrocketing energy bills will likely mean this recovery will take even longer.'