ALTHOUGH I usually do my shopping in Burnley town centre, I ventured to Accrington recently and was very surprised by what I found.
Accrington Arndale is a lot busier than last time I visited with quite a few new stores – Branded Clearance, Stationery Craft, Lancashire Tea Rooms, Grainger Games, Store 21, Costa and a pound shop, the name of which escapes me.
Outside of the Arndale, Lady Clitheroe, Cash Converters and Baileys Menswear are just a few of the new names. Also, as I went into the Market Hall and the streets of Blackburn Road and Abbey Street, I was struck by the wealth and array of independent retailers.
After my visit I couldn’t help but think, what has Burnley done wrong? There are empty units in Fleet Walk that would be ideal for small shops such as The Fragrance Shop or Timepiece or even a Millies or Ditsch food outlet, the old Original Shoe Co shop in the Market Square is a prime site for a Republic, Topman or Blue Inc store but is at present a store that sells clothes usually found on the market. The former T.J. Hughes store would make a great Debenhams and the empty units in Chancery Walk and The Mall should definitely be snapped up by now.
Burnley has fewer prime retail units than most towns our size so nearly all of them should be let. As for independents, Rawtenstall, Accrington and Clitheroe put us to shame. Standish Street looks a mess, as does Keirby Walk and Parker Lane. Burnley has so much to offer and has a lot of untapped potential. We could catch up to Blackburn with the right stores and independent investment and, when The Oval eventually opens, we could outstrip them.
CLIFTON FARM, BURNLEY