Empty shops ‘disgusting’

Efforts under way to force clean-up in Lace Walk, Honiton.

“Disgusting and detrimental to the town” - words used to describe empty shop units in Lace Walk Shopping Centre.

Colin Wright, chairman of Honiton and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, made the remarks in the presence of local MP Neil Parish during a breakfast meeting last Friday.

“Lace Walk is causing me great concern,” he said. “I’ve written to leaseholders, because it looks disgusting and is detrimental to the town.”

Lyn Hargood, the town clerk, had also written to leaseholders to express concern.

Mr Wright revealed one company did not even realise it had a lease on a unit in Lace Walk.

He claimed flats above some of the empty retail units are in such poor condition that they are uninhabitable.

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“We are thinking of putting on exhibitions in the empty shop windows to tidy the area up,” he said.

“East Devon District Council has no problem with this - so long as there is no advertising.”

Mr Wright added: “Dowell Street corner is another hiccup, but it is going to be tidied up.”

Lace Walk falls just outside Honiton’s prime retail area, but is considered a major part of High Street - with links to the town’s largest car park, the Tourist Information Centre and the Thelma Hulbert Gallery.

It is ‘home’ to The Co-operative, The Original Factory Shop, Store 21 and Iceland, but has been blighted in recent years with vacant units.

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