A proposed rent increase and decreasing footfall in the village centre have led a cafe in Lancing to close its doors after five years.
Denise and Andy Crook will close The Queensway Cafe in Queensway, Lancing, on Saturday (February, 9) – leaving the space empty for the first time in 40 years.
Mrs Crook said the main reason for closing was that the lease had expired and the landlord wanted to put the rent up by 80 per cent. “We wouldn’t be able to live!” she said.
But she also blamed declining footfall in the village.
Looking back, she said that after a quiet year setting up the cafe, its second, third and fourth years had been ‘amazing’ – but things had changed in the last year or so.
“Now there’s no banks, the Post Office has gone into a corner shop, all the shops are shutting up left right and centre. It’s a ghost town,” she said.
“It’s literally drained us to be here the last year.
“Half past twelve, it will be dead, where as before you couldn’t get through the door, we used to be packed out.”
She said Lancing needed ‘decent shops...not just takeaways’ in order to attract people into the village centre rather than go elsewhere, admitting: “We are the same, we go to Worthing to go to the bank, and while we are there we do our shopping there. We are victims of it too.”
Mrs Crook said they were sad to be leaving but the time was right to move on.
“We’ve has some amazing presents and flowers,” she said. “People treat us as a social club, people have met here coming in for a coffee.”
She added: “I was brought up in Lancing and lived here all my life. I’ve seen it go down so fast. I don’t know what the future holds.”
The cafe is not the only store in Queensway to close its doors.
Sussex Drug Store, known SDS in Queensway, is due to close down soon, an employee confirmed.
The Italian restaurant in Queensway, Terra Mia, closed its doors at the beginning of the year – however a spokesman said owner Vincenzo Marzano was planning to reopen the premises as an Italian restaurant soon.
Tammy Linsey, manager at Truffles Bakery in Queensway, Lancing, said it was sad to have empty shops around.
“It’s not attractive,” she said. “I’ve lived in Lancing all my life. It’s a bit depressing to look around and see empty shops.”
She said the lack of shops would stop new visitors from coming into the village.
While she hoped the new development at New Monks Farm would see more people using the high street, she said: “If there aren’t the shops here, they will go further afield.”
She added that it was a ‘godsend’ that the village still had an ASDA and COOP to attract shoppers.
She said she wanted to see the council do more – such as advertise the monthly market better.
“I do think the council needs to pay a bit more attention to Lancing,” she said. “People think the council is ignoring us a bit.”
Stuart Brown, owner at Dave Brown and Son Butchers, further down the street in North Road, agreed.
He said of the village: “It has good potential. It needs the council to put some money into it.”
However he admitted: “I don’t know what the answer is, what the council can do to make the high street better.”
He said he did not think bringing in bigger shops would help – and said the Costa which was at one point going to move into the former LLoyd’s bank building would have taken trade away from independent businesses.
The closure of both the Lloyds and Barclay’s banks had had a big impact on the village, he said.
“Lancing losing its banks has killed it,” he said.
Though he said the village had ‘always evolved’ and that the public should support it.
Adur District Council has been contacted for a comment.