A national report which placed St Austell at the bottom of a national league for retail rents is wrong – in our opinion.
Figures published by Colliers International claim retail rents in St Austell have suffered a 40% loss in the last year, with values dropping further than towns in deprived areas of Wales and the North East.
Colliers' Autumn - Great Britain Retail Analysis included 420 sample towns, and singled out St Austell as being the "worst performer" in the country, with prime retail rents dropping from around £50 per sq ft to around £30 per sq ft in the space of 12 months.
But Colliers' statistics do not tally with Miller Commercial's records which show a much less precipitous drop. Its figures show of a peak in rents in 2006/7 at approx. £45 per sq ft which has gradually declined by 30-35% over the past five years to around £30 per sq ft.
Our Senior Valuer, Andrew Ranson, says "the drop in rental values has not been as dramatic as Colliers suggest. Yes, prime rents have fallen a good deal since 2007 but it is incorrect to say that they have plummeted by 40% during the past year.
After an initial fall from their peak, rents on Fore Street have been relatively stable over the past two years at between £28-34 per sq ft (after accounting for rent free periods and other incentives). With rents at this level, St Austell, which is the largest town in Cornwall, should be an attractive proposition for retailers".
Mike Cole, of Colvase Estate, owns around 15% of the retail premises in St Austell, agrees with us. He's slammed Colliers report as "A load of tosh!" He says "the figures quoted in the report do not reflect the rents in his properties and are instead a lazy analysis of figures calculated without using all the comparable evidence available".
Chair of St Austell Chamber of Commerce, Tom French was also taken aback by Colliers findings. He says "Colliers statisticians have misinterpreted the figures. Low rents are good news. They are being proactively put in place by landlords to attract new businesses to their shops and give them a chance to establish themselves."
Colliers Great Britain Retail Report highlighted the need for Local Authorities, planners, landlords, developers and retailers to work together to rejuvenate towns that are struggling. While everyone would agree on that point it would seem St Austell is struggling no more or less than many other towns in Cornwall, or indeed the UK.