Traders in one of Cardiff’s most prominent shopping streets have spoken about their concerns for the area after the closure of two well-known eateries.
Noble House Chinese restaurant and Café Novo, beneath St David’s House in Wood Street, opposite the city’s main railway and bus stations, have both closed in recent weeks leaving around a third of the parade shut.
Amir Issazadeh, manager of the Lifestyle Express newsagent, said that the area had been left behind while the rest of the city centre was redeveloped.
Mr Issazadeh said: “For visitors coming in, seeing this part of Cardiff, it’s not doing Cardiff any favours.
“There’s potential you can go back to how it was five or six years ago, it was thriving, it’s just declined.”
He said it was not just the loss of the two eateries that had led to a downturn in the area’s fortunes but also people moving out of the offices above.
He said: “There’s a drop in trade – we used to do really good trade with the people in the building, we used to run little discount schemes.”
Vijiti Channing, in running shop Run and Become, said the area was essentially a gateway to the city, given its proximity to the bus and train stations, but did not give a good impression, especially in comparison to the stadium and city centre.
Kristian Barry, owner of the Comic Guru shop on Wood Street, suggested the pressure of keeping up with rents and rates had led to both businesses pulling out of the area.
He said, for him, high business rates were a particular problem and he has been fighting to get them reduced for two years.
He said: “I’m paying more in business rates than I’m paying in rent and that’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s something the Welsh Government should be looking into.
“I used to have three people working for me and we lost 70% of our trade and I just had to cut everything back. I desperately need to employ people, I’m doing the job of five or six people and it’s taking its toll. Without proper support from the Welsh Government, it’s just impossible.
“It’s a real shame they’ve gone, Cardiff needs businesses like that, they give good service, good value for money. It’s a real shame they felt unable to continue as there’s no support system for them.”
There is some hope for the area; the model shop Antics is set to open in the former Diamond Holidays shop within days, and estate agents DTZ suggested there may be tenants interested in other premises.
However, a DTZ spokesman said uncertainty over the future of the area, which may include the building being demolished, made finding tenants more complicated.
A Cardiff Council spokesman said plans for the area were being reviewed but remained a priority for the council.