'I don't think the arcade can be saved' – Businesses lament landlords of a historic arcade 'losing its appeal'
PUBLISHED: 17:16 25 October 2018 | UPDATED: 17:16 25 October 2018
Archant © 2018
In its heyday the Victoria Arcade in Great Yarmouth was packed full of unique and ingenious businesses.
But now almost half of the premises are empty and its once vibrant atmosphere has been relinquished.
Since new landlords, HIS Investments, took over the arcade around 14 months ago, businesses say more than six premises have been vacated.
And business owners have hit out at the landlords, with one claiming it ‘doesn’t care’ and another saying it has “done nothing” to restore the arcade to its former glory.
The arcade was rejuvenated in 2016 after a major fire destroyed many thriving businesses on Regent Road and the indoor market, resulting in numerous businesses relocating to the Victoria Arcade.
Following several new additions, one of the town’s most unique retail locations looked set for a promising future.
However now, just under two years on, 17 of its 36 premises are vacant and the arcade according to businesses is ‘losing its appeal’.
Richard Marks and Ele Rodgers, owner’s of Woodcraft Gifts, said the arcade was “thriving” when they moved in after the fire on Regent Road.
Mr Marks said: “Lots of businesses moved into the arcade when we did, it was thriving and about 90pc full.
“Now because the landlords don’t care about it we have lost lots who have moved out and it doesn’t have the same atmosphere.
“It is a real shame because it could be an amazing place with lots of unique shops.”
Steve Morris, 48, of Steve’s Pick ‘N’ Mix said businesses are suffering because the arcade is “unappealing” to customers. He has demanded the landlords ‘sort the arcade out’.
“There are so many empty shops and people don’t want to spend money here. You can understand why they would walk past the arcade and think there’s no point walking down it.
“The landlords have done nothing and it is becoming a real problem for us. They need to sort it out,” he said.
Paul Wallia, 63, who owns T-Shirt King, thinks it is too late for the arcade to be saved.
He said: “It is in a very bad state and I don’t think the arcade can be saved now. It would take some serious investment to bring businesses back to it.”
The newspaper has approached HIS Investments for comment but they have not responded.
Mike Wallis, 80, who owns puppetry and magic shop Wallis’s Wonders is desperate to see the arcade revamped.
He said: “It use to be a really unique place full of interesting and special businesses but general maintenance of the arcade has been very poor recently.
“I love working here and know how good it could be. It is such a shame to see so many empty shops.”
Adrian Ashdown, 43, from Sussex who is on holiday in Great Yarmouth said it is “very sad” to see the arcade in this state.
Mr Ashdown said: “It is a very historic place so it’s very sad to see it in this state with lots of empty shops.
“The arcade could be great but it isn’t particularly attractive to visitors at the minute.”