Cradley Heath Market Square Ltd

Highlighting best practice as a representative in The Parliamentary Review

The ability to listen and learn from one another has always been vital in parliament, in business and in most aspects of daily life. But at this particular moment in time, as national and global events continue to reiterate, it is uncommonly crucial that we forge new channels of communication and reinforce existing ones. The following article from Cradley Heath Market Square Ltd is an attempt to do just that. We would welcome your thoughts on this or any other Parliamentary Review article.

Managing Director Hiten Shah
Empty shops, now revived
Cradley Heath Development Ltd are committed to
reinvigorating Cradley Heath High Street. Having purchased
24 shops, a market hall and car parking spaces in 2014,
they have set about refurbishing the storefronts and attracting
new tenants. To try to combat the influence of a large Tesco
store in the area, they have tried to attract tenants who
can compete with larger multinationals by offering a more
specialised service. Managing Director Hiten Shah explains how
they have attempted to do this and how they think government
can help to revive ailing high streets.
We purchased a large part of the high street in Cradley Heath on December 24,
2014 in an auction. This consisted of 24 shops, a market hall and associated car
parking. The shops were mostly unoccupied with only four trading at the time of
purchase. The market hall with 96 stalls had been operating since 1917 and had a
dozen market traders struggling to trade. In September 2007, Tesco opened a large
store at the foot of the high street and as a result the roads were redirected to
allow better access to Tesco to the detriment of the high street. Some tenants lost
their ability to use the service roads at the rear for loading and unloading.
The impact of Tesco opening was devastating to a once-thriving high street. Shops
began to shut down as Tesco usurped their trade. Livelihoods of owners were
destroyed. The high street is served by two council-run public car parking areas
which have a pay and display system, whereas Tesco offers three-hour free car
parking to customers. This issue enforces another disadvantage for the tenants.
»Managing Director: Hiten Shah
»Established in 2001
»Based in Stanmore
»Services: Development of
residential property
»No. of employees: 10
Cradley Heath
Development Ltd
Highlighting best practice
The high street
has suffered a
decrease in
shoppers, who
now opt to go
to neighbouring
towns like
Merry Hill
Trying to stimulate an ailing
high street
Since we purchased the development,
we have tried to revive the footfall
by significantly lowering the rents
and giving rent-free incentives to
attract entrepreneurs to come forward
and trade. We struggled to retain
tenants between 2015 and 2017 as
the business rates were too high for
the shops to survive. The car parking
situation has not helped either.
We have had better luck in 2018,
however. We currently let 22 shops,
and the retention of tenants has
increased. This has been due to lower
rents and rates relief for some of the
smaller shops. The larger units do not
get rates relief and we are not able to
attract long-term tenants. This means
that they remain empty and hence
inhibits the footfall that the high street
so desperately needs for the shops
In 2017, we began to convert
the upper parts of the shops into
residential units. This will be complete
by December 2018. We have been able
to secure these as Help to Buy units
and this should enhance sales and help
to revive life on the high street while
providing good quality homes to those
wanting to get on the property ladder.
During 2015 and 2016, we continued
to encourage smaller traders to rent
stalls in the market hall. Unfortunately,
due to the poor footfall on the high
street, the market traders did not
prosper and could not continue
trading. The market hall was sadly
closed and rented as a warehouse
after we tried in vain to attract larger
tenants. The market hall needs an
anchor tenant to attract footfall.
However, with Tesco at the end of
the high street, no retailer is attracted
to the site. Cradley Heath was once
a thriving shopping destination.
Now, the high street has suffered
a significant decrease in shoppers,
who now opt to go to neighbouring
towns like Merry Hill. This has been
unfortunate as Cradley Heath has a
great community spirit and a quaint
high street that can easily serve the
needs to the local residents.
Choosing tenants that Tesco
cannot compete with
We have been strategic in the types of
tenants we try to attract to ensure their
longevity. Operators that Tesco cannot
compete with tend to do better and
these are the types of tenants we have
been able to attract. These include a
local and well-respected fishmonger
and a grocer who both only sell fresh
produce, a hairdresser and nail bar,
a bespoke cake shop, a card shop, a
A well-designed
collection of one, two
and three-bedroom
homes, created as
starter homes for those
looking to take their first
step on the property
We have converted the
upper parts of the shops
into Help to Buy units
boutique gift shop, an amusement
arcade, a facial aesthetic clinic, charity
shops and a long-standing pharmacy.
Some of these occupants span more
than one unit and it is essential to
have this diversity of retailers to try to
compete with larger multinationals
Our success in finding tenants that can
co-exist with Tesco has increased the
footfall and has benefited other shops.
It has helped to revive a high street
that once looked like a ghost town.
Improvements that can still be
To continue this development, we
have targeted a number of measures
that can be taken to further increase
footfall on the high street and improve
the fortunes of our tenants. Lifting
parking charges in the public car
parks would help shoppers to park
nearer to the shops and circumvent
the advantage Tesco can offer. This
could also be helped by improving
the local road infrastructure to divert
more cars towards the high street.
Businesses would also hugely benefit
if business rates were lifted and grants
were given to tenants alongside the
encouragement of tax relief for small
businesses. As businesses start out,
they need assistance to prosper, and
allowing shops who are not VAT
registered to claim VAT back from
their rent would be another method
to support them. A greater degree of
dialogue between Sandwell Council
and local businesses would also help
to identify and solve issues with a far
greater degree of efficiency.
As high streets across the country
continue to struggle, often
because of competition from larger
multinationals, it is essential that we
support small business owners to
become successful and reinvigorate
local areas. Given the correct
assistance, Cradley Heath High Street
can return to its former glory and its
central place in the local community.
We are committed to supporting this
change and hope that local councils,
and wider government, help us to
achieve this.
The impact of
Tesco opening
was devastating
to a once-
thriving high
Restoring footfall to the
high street

This article was sponsored by Cradley Heath Market Square Ltd. The Parliamentary Review is wholly funded by the representatives who write for it.