Halstead: Window dressing helps improve blight of empty shops in high street

THE visual blight of empty shops is being tackled in one Essex district – by covering them up with mock shopfronts.

An enterprising shop owner was the first to step forward in Halstead to take advantage of Braintree District Council’s initiative.

The property, at 35 High Street, had been empty, but it has now taken on the appearance of a perfume shop.

The window vinyls form part of the district council’s ‘Backing our Towns’ initiative, designed to combat the negative appearance of empty shops and help landlords find tenants for their premises.

Chris Siddall, cabinet member for prosperity and growth, said: “Makeovers to empty shop windows help disguise signs of the recession, maintain a clean welcoming high street and look attractive to shoppers.”

Jennifer Smith, owner of 35 High Street, said: “I’ve recently had the shop painted and now with the shop vinyls I think it looks fantastic.

“It’s good to see the council supporting businesses in the town centres and I’d encourage others to give it a try – there’s no cost and if it helps the high streets look more attractive it’s got to be good for everyone.”

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Braintree council has employed local firm Leading Edge Graphics Ltd in Halstead to supply and install the vinyls. Jon Hawthorne said: “We are very pleased to be working with Braintree District Council on this project and as a Halstead-based firm it’s great to see our work on display in the town.”

Now the ’Backing Our Towns’ team at Braintree council hopes to hear from landlords and property owners looking to transform and revive their own empty town centre premises. For more information call Tania Roberge on 01376 552525 or e-mail tania.roberge@braintree.gov.uk.