Bath has become a ghost town with 42 closed-down shops in centreĀ 

Empty Bath: Historic and exclusive city has become a ghost town with 42 closed-down shops in centre

  • Bath, one of Britain’s most historic and exclusive shopping cities, has been turned into a ‘ghost town’
  • As many as 42 shops in the centre currently sit empty with ‘to let’ signs hanging and windows boarded up
  • A local campaigner described the growing number of abandoned shops as ‘shocking’
  • Bath and North East Somerset council has said it takes the problem at the UNESCO site ‘very seriously’

One of Britain’s most historic and exclusive shopping cities has been turned into a ‘ghost town’ – with 42 empty shops in the centre, according to a frustrated campaigner.

Bath in Somerset has attracted wealthy tourists and shoppers for hundreds of years and was the playground of the Roman, Georgian and Victorian elite.

The spa city and World Heritage Site is famous for its parades of shops, hotels and restaurants considered one of the UK’s top tourist hotspots outside of London.

But local Luke John Emmett, 32, of campaign group Bath Deserves Better, says it is now peppered with abandoned shops.

One of Britain's most historic and exclusive shopping cities has been turned into a 'ghost town' - with 42 empty shops in the centre, according to a frustrated campaigner

One of Britain’s most historic and exclusive shopping cities has been turned into a ‘ghost town’ – with 42 empty shops in the centre, according to a frustrated campaigner

But local Luke John Emmett, 32, of campaign group Bath Deserves Better, says it is now peppered with abandoned shops

But local Luke John Emmett, 32, of campaign group Bath Deserves Better, says it is now peppered with abandoned shops

Mr Emmett took photographs of neglected premises while walking through the town last Tuesday

Mr Emmett took photographs of neglected premises while walking through the town last Tuesday

The local activist described the growing number of empty shops as 'shocking' and said the UNESCO World Heritage Site was beginning to feel like a 'ghost town'

The local activist described the growing number of empty shops as ‘shocking’ and said the UNESCO World Heritage Site was beginning to feel like a ‘ghost town’

He took photographs of neglected premises while walking through the town last Tuesday.

He described the growing number of empty shops as ‘shocking’ and said the UNESCO World Heritage Site was beginning to feel like a ‘ghost town’.

‘All these photos were taken in one day on a quick walk around Bath,’ he tweeted.

‘It’s SHOCKING that so many empty properties sit around Bath. It’s not good enough.

Mr Emmett said he hoped the photographs would help raise awareness of the struggles facing one of the UK’s most-visited cities.

He told Bath Live: ‘The other day I was on a bus as it went up Walcot Street and it just struck me how many shops were empty and looking sorry for themselves.

‘It really brings the look of the city down and is just such a shame. We just can’t have all these empty voids there.’ 

As locals chimed in, Bath & North East Somerset Council replied: ‘It’s been a tough year on the High Street nationally but in Bath city centre footfall is up and occupancy high. Particularly proud of local independents and our work with @BathBID and @InvestinBath. ‘ 

An empty shop in Bath
What the shop front used to look like
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As locals chimed in, Bath & North East Somerset Council replied: ‘It’s been a tough year on the High Street nationally but in Bath city centre footfall is up and occupancy high. Particularly proud of local independents and our work with @BathBID and @InvestinBath’. Pictured: Before and after picture of a retail unit in the Abbey Courtyard

An empty unit in The Corridor arcade in present day bath
The Corridor shopping arcade in Bath when it was thriving
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Earlier this year one business owner, also based in the heart of the city, said the number of empty shops in Bath was ’embarrassing’. Pictured: Comparison between a store in The Corridor

An empty Cath Kidson shop in Bath
What Cath Kidson in Bath used to look like when open
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Although the level of business rates is set by the national Government, Mr Emmett said the council could still do more. Pictured: Before and after picture of a store front on Broad Street

A former Nationwide branch in Bath standing empty
Other business people have hit out at the cost of business rates and rent making it difficult to thrive in Bath. Pictured: Comparison between a store on Milsom Street
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Quiet Street in Bath is living up to its name with this former Nationwide branch standing vacant 

Mr Emmett counted eight vacant retail units on one street alone.

Earlier this year one business owner, also based in the heart of the city, said the number of empty shops in Bath was ’embarrassing’.

Other business people have hit out at the cost of business rates and rent making it difficult to thrive in Bath.

Bath and North East Somerset council has said it takes the problem ‘very seriously’, while also pointing out that many of the empty shops Mr Emmett counted are set to be brought back to life in the near future.

But Mr Emmett believes the council needs to be more ‘open to ideas’. 

Although the level of business rates is set by the national Government, Mr Emmett said the council could still do more.

‘The council doesn’t have to accept it,’ Mr Emmett said. ‘If it was me I’d go back to the Government and fight for a better deal.’

He added: ‘Bath is terrible at advertising itself to its own residents.

‘We’re good at getting people to come here from America but sometimes we need to remind people who live here to use the city, too.’

Mr Emmett said he hoped the photographs would help raise awareness of the struggles facing one of the UK's most-visited cities

Mr Emmett said he hoped the photographs would help raise awareness of the struggles facing one of the UK’s most-visited cities

Bath and North East Somerset council pointed out that many of the empty shops Mr Emmett counted are set to be brought back to life in the near future

Bath and North East Somerset council pointed out that many of the empty shops Mr Emmett counted are set to be brought back to life in the near future

The rest of Bath could learn from the SouthGate shopping centre, Mr Emmett argues, although he would like to see more independent shops there

The rest of Bath could learn from the SouthGate shopping centre, Mr Emmett argues, although he would like to see more independent shops there

While having some empty shops is inevitable, Mr Emmett would like to see more derelict buildings smartened up and used to promote events Bath has to offer

While having some empty shops is inevitable, Mr Emmett would like to see more derelict buildings smartened up and used to promote events Bath has to offer

Bath in Somerset has attracted wealthy tourists and shoppers for hundreds of years and was the playground of the Roman, Georgian and Victorian elite

Bath in Somerset has attracted wealthy tourists and shoppers for hundreds of years and was the playground of the Roman, Georgian and Victorian elite

While having some empty shops is inevitable, Mr Emmett would like to see more derelict buildings smartened up and used to promote events Bath has to offer.

He added: ‘It would make them less of an eyesore. They could be used to actually promote Bath and the brilliant events that make the city what it is.’

The rest of Bath could learn from the SouthGate shopping centre, Mr Emmett argues, although he would like to see more independent shops there.

He said: ‘Whatever the SouthGate are doing, they’re doing it right. They keep it clean and shops are never empty there for very long.

‘In the rest of the city it feels like our sense of community is being chipped away at with all these empty buildings.’ 

The spa city and World Heritage Site is famous for its parades of shops, hotels and restaurants considered one of the UK's top tourist hotspots outside of London

The spa city and World Heritage Site is famous for its parades of shops, hotels and restaurants considered one of the UK’s top tourist hotspots outside of London

One of the many empty shops in Bath which has been documented by Luke John Emmett, 32, of campaign group Bath Deserves Better - this retail unit is on Stall Street

One of the many empty shops in Bath which has been documented by Luke John Emmett, 32, of campaign group Bath Deserves Better – this retail unit is on Stall Street

Mr Emmett said: 'In the rest of the city it feels like our sense of community is being chipped away at with all these empty buildings'

Mr Emmett said: ‘In the rest of the city it feels like our sense of community is being chipped away at with all these empty buildings’

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