Expensive rent and business rates blamed as Chichester art shop confirms it is set to close

High business rates and rent have been blamed as the owner of an independent art shop in Chichester confirms it is closing down later this year.

Owner of the Coln Gallery Bill Banbury said the shop in North Street will close when its lease expires at the beginning of September.

The Coln Gallery in North Street, Chichester

The Coln Gallery in North Street, Chichester

He said: "Obviously we're very grateful for all the support that [customers] have given us over the years.

"We just can't afford it anymore, we're still opening our other two branches but Chichester is too expensive.

"The business rates are expensive and just the pay and the financial expense, it just doesn't add up anymore."

He said the Chichester branch had been open for around 15 to 20 years.

"We're sorry to go because it's a nice shop and we like Chichester and we like our customers but we can't go on with it and I think a lot of shops are struggling," he said.

The shop is the latest in a line of closures in Chichester this year, including House of Fraser, and the sudden closures of HMV, computer store Solutions Inc, and Crabtree and Eveyln on West Street.

Business rates are set by central government based on the value of a property, with funds redistributed back to local councils. See our Factfile: Business rates in Chichester
Bill Banbury said he thought the issues with the high street were 'accelerating'.

"I think what's happened to us all is when the landlords purchased these premises in the high street and set the going rent, it was all done a long time ago, before the internet, and over the years the rent has gone up and the sales have gone down but because of the internet.

"Everybody else seems to see that but the people who own the premises don't see that the rents are not realistic, people buy a lot of their purchases on the internet - the council's are guilty of the same fault, they just won't take it into account."

He said the success of the shop as it was, offering art supplies and gifts, was down to the efforts of the staff team at Chichester.

"They've been fantastic, always cheerful and they know all about the products and without them the shop would not have been as good as it is," he said.