Shop front changes would have ‘massive effect’ on businesses
Over 50 shop owners in Bradford have complained that new legislation, requiring many to redesign their shop fronts, would have major detrimental effects on their businesses.
The stores in the conservation area in Manningham, on Oak Lane and the surrounding area, received letters stating it is regulation that shutters are only installed inside the buildings and not on the exterior.
For many, this would mean taking down their current ‘guard’ and losing space on the inside of their premises to cater for the changes.
As well as arguments in regard to costs, traders are also worried about the safety of their properties if such changes were forced to go ahead.
Amongst the business owners campaigning against the regulations is Nasir Mahmood.
For the past 30 years he has run his store from Oak Lane and only installed his new shop front less than two years ago.
“To have to reinstall the shutters again is something which I cannot afford to do,” he said.
“The front of the store was redeveloped in 2012 to keep up with competition and that took a long time to save for.
“To take the shutters down and put them inside the shop is going to have a massive effect on the business. If I do it, I fear that my shop would be broken into that same day.”
Mr Mahmood repairs televisions and other electrical equipment, adding that his store could be targeted because of the often expensive goods inside.
Fellow shop owner, Badar Zaman, has also been running his DIY store on the same road for 30 years.
He added: “We did not put up the shutters to break the law, just to protect our stores.
“We are all law abiding people but it seems at times even criminals have more rights and more say than us.”
Many of the fifty-plus businesses have received letters, demanding changes be made, on a number of occasions in the past.
Bradford Independent Group councillor for Manningham, Cllr Ishtiaq Ahmed, argues that ‘even the most iconic building in Bradford’ fails to comply with the ‘unreasonable’ legislation.
“Located just up this Road (Oak Lane) is Lister Mills which is arguably the most iconic building in the city and even that doesn’t comply with these rules,” he said.
“How can the council therefore impose these legal obligations on independent retailers who are just trying to make a living?”
A Bradford Council spokesperson said: “We have sent out 16 letters to properties that are either on or back onto Oak Lane in Manningham reminding them that they need to change their shop shutters which are not appropriate for the conservation area.
“Council policy was last year endorsed by the Executive regarding shop shutters in order to improve the overall appearance of areas, particularly conservation areas, which attracts more customers in the long term.
“Businesses can take a look at our policy guide which is on the Council’s website. It shows a number of alternatives to external shutters and internal shutters are not necessarily more expensive. They are there to protect stock from being stolen, rather than protect the glass.”