STRATFORD District Council has pledged to do all it can to support businesses across the district.
It follows the announcement a number of well-known high street stores in the town centre – including Currys and BHS – will be forced to shut up shop.
The council and its partners say they are considering options to ensure the quality of retail is maintained. It currently offers free planning advice for businesses looking to move to empty shops in Stratford while there is also business rates relief.
Any property which had a rateable value of up to £50,000 in 2014/15 and 2015/16 can claim back £1,000 and £1,500 retrospectively until September 30.
A reoccupation relief of 50 per cent can also be awarded for 18 months for businesses that moved into previously empty retail premises between the start of April 2014 and the end of March 2016.
And any business suffering financial hardship can apply for a discretionary relief grant but full details – including the last two year’s audited accounts – need to be provided.
The council say support and advice is also available for businesses wishing to set up or relocate to the town.
This includes inward investment opportunities, new business start-up advice, business planning, access to funding and finance, apprenticeship opportunities, and mentoring.
And the new Business Centre, Venture House also provides office units and hot-desking opportunities for new business start-ups and existing small businesses.
Council leader, Chris Saint said: “It is terribly sad to see major high street brands closing down, particularly national institutions such as BHS and Currys. The main concern must be for staff and what can be done to help them secure alternative employment.
“Changing habits and increased use of on-line shopping have created a whole new set of challenges for every town centre and we are keen to attract new businesses to empty shops to sustain our shopping offer.
“Despite these closures, our town centre remains active with business, leisure, retail and employment opportunities through new redevelopment schemes such as Bell Court and Red Lion Court.
“While these closures are to be regretted, Stratford district retains a lively and varied retail offer and the council will continue to work with partners to ensure an environment where our high streets prosper – creating job opportunities and vibrant places to shop for our residents.”