Independent shop owners on Lincoln’s side streets claim they are being “neglected” with the city council focusing more on other areas of the city. Businesses on streets such as Corporation Street and Guildhall Street are calling for more attention and investment to be put into their areas in comparison to places such as the Cornhill Quarter and the Bailgate.
The Cornhill Quarter has undergone transformation from a £70 million redevelopment initiative that began in 2016. It has created new establishments such as The Botanist, Cosy Club, Pho, and Everyman Cinema.
Shop owners in the side streets said challenges include the area not being attractive for visitors and rent prices increasing. The City of Lincoln Council has said it will be conducting a review of the “city council masterplan” in 2024 where businesses in Lincoln can have their say.
Toby Rovezzano, owner of Akedo Gaming Bar on Corporation Street, said: “It does look a bit neglected down here. I am what I am, I’m a little bar and I keep myself to myself. The problem is, we’ve got the Probation Office across the road and that doesn’t help with homeless people hanging around.
“There’s nothing in place to prevent people sleeping on the street over there, they always used to sleep outside the Tattooed Arms. I do worry how it affects my business and if it puts people off coming down here.”
He went on to say that independent businesses who are dealing with higher rent prices should receive more support. He said: “Someone should be doing more to prevent people putting their rents up. If people could afford to rent down here, businesses would stay and it then would naturally regenerate itself.
“We’re only just off the High Street, why not expand it and make it more attractive for people to come down this way? That’s what I’m trying to do, that’s why my business is here.
“Everything I’ve done has been by myself. So it would be nice to have some support, especially as I pay business rates. I don’t really know where that money is going as it seems to be mainly going towards the Cornhill and the Bailgate.”
The Tattooed Arms on Corporation Street has recently relocated to a new premises on Kings Arms Yard. Partner Katy Stark said the business faced £1,600 in costs after include loitering outside the shop led to the business’s windows being smashed roughly twice a year.
She said: “Our rent was going up and things were getting worse. It wasn’t a very inviting place for customers. Even now, down an alley, is still more inviting than Corporation St.
“We have a nice space here but we have had to go up a level to maintain space because everyone is being priced out of the centre.” Adam Mann, who runs Rock Retro Vintage Clothing on Guildhall Street, said: “The council helps us sometimes, but not really with anything massive. They are definitely there for us to speak to but they definitely don’t seem as hands-on as they are with others in the Cornhill or the Bailgate.
“If you go into the Cornhill right now there are already Christmas lights up, but there isn’t anywhere else. A lot of money has been sunk into that area. Our street isn’t too bad, but we do get left out quite a bit.” Adam said in the future, he hopes creative initiatives will be considered for his own street, and also proposed a scaled-down version of the recent Lincoln Live event at the Cornhill in Guildhall Street.
He added: “They [the council] don’t really make any effort to make the city look pretty, there isn’t much greenery.” Responding to these concerns, a spokesperson from City of Lincoln Council said: “A review of the city centre masterplan will take place in 2024. There will be an opportunity for city centre businesses and their representatives to have their say as part of this process.”