Good question - asking other comparable towns how they deal with the some problem will help - see for example http://tinyurl.com/yoscvn
No potential shop keeper can compete with Sainsbury's, Asda and (deep sigh) Tesco so actively court independents, perhaps a silly question but how come Kevin's Menswear of Westbury does not have a branch here?
Suggest research into establishing what Frome lacks then actively court ?
Possibly those businesses that use the internet for trading would find Frome an agreeable town into which to base its business?
Wrest countrol of parking from Mendip District to Frome Town Council?
I think it is really interesting that the main area of empty shops is the 'core', the strip between Iceland and Shoe Zone. To me these are probably the least desirable units. . The footfall on the pavement along here is high and judging by the lack of available parking spaces in the car park on a saturday there is no shortage of people in town.
What are all the people doing? One clue is in the number of cafes that have sprung up all over the centre of Frome, particularly the Catherine Hill area. In fact Catherine Hill seems to be booming. I remember a time when most of the shops in Catherine Hill were boarded up and the Council had to inject a load of money and grants to regenerate this area. Even Bath Street is now nearly 100% occupied.
The clear pattern is that shopping in Frome has changed, not necessarily for the better but it's doing much better than all the poor clone towns with no character. The number of independent retailers in Frome is quite amazing. So the answer to how to fill these empty units is to give people what they want!! But please - no more Sweet shops, Card shops, Charity shops, Estate Agents or Cafes, lets have some interesting independant retailers...
I hope we can see change in a positive light in Frome, after all we have had an influx of thriving new businesses in the town in the last few years. The leases on shops vary wildly & new businesses often move into larger units closer to the centre as they expand their business. Lets think of vacancies as an opportunity for new local jobs - some of the vacant properties are here - http://tinyurl.com/38m8yaf
On parking - Mendip District Council own virtually all the car parks. They bring in a substantial income to the DC, around £330,000 pa last time I looked. It's unlikely that they would sell them to the Town Council I think. Though the Town Council are hoping to buy the C&G and some of the adjacent car park. See http://tinyurl.com/3x95rfz
Something is happening. In August Frome Chamber of Commerce asked Mendip District Council to look at the Shopjacket scheme that has been running in Bridgwater. Frome Town Council and Mendip District Council have been investigating that and have had meetings with them. I raised this with the East Mendip Community Partnership recently, and it was discussed at the Planning Committee of Frome Town Council on 26th November.
I'm hopeful something will be up and running in the New Year.
In the meantime there are lots of rumours about some of the empty shops in the Market Place being let or about to be so maybe Frome will solve it's own problems again.