The plight of shop owners trying to keep afloat in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic has been revealed with a survey showing 15 per cent of shops in the CBD are vacant.
Orange City Council staff have revealed that 79 of the 530 businesses in the CBD are empty.
Council has been told the 15 per cent rate is higher than some other regional cities which had a 10-12 per cent CBD vacancy rate.
They are paying a third more in rates than anyone outside the CBD.Cr Kevin Duffy
Cr Kevin Duffy told this week's council meeting he was concerned new developments outside the CBD would harm business in the centre of town.
He said the CBD was "under seige" from the affects of COVID-19 on their business.
Plans seeking a supermarket at the Bloomfield Medical Centre are expected to come to council soon while there are also moves to expand the north Orange shopping complex.
Eight submissions have been received after the Bloomfield supermarket rezoning plan was put on public exhibition and are to be examined by council staff.
Cr Duffy said CBD business owners paid high rates.
"They are paying a third more in rates than anyone outside the CBD," he said.
Cr Sam Romano said CBD businesses needed to be protected.
"Hurting the existing shops in the CBD is a big no,no," he said.
Cr Jason Hamling said CBD shop owners were concerned about new shops outside the CBD.
"I've had a few business people in the Orange CBD asking questions about that [Bloomfield] development," he said.
"There is a lot of angst out there amongst shop owners about what is going out there and how it will affect the CBD."
CEO David Waddell said the CBD was the priority for the council. He said there needed to be population growth to justify shopping centre developments outside the CBD.
Commercial real estate agent Gary Blowes of Blowes Real Estate said the situation was likely to get worse as many businesses were struggling to pay their rent.
"We've got two in Anson Street who haven't paid me any rent in four months," he said. "Some of them are paying 50 per cent."
Mr Blowes said government relief packages were propping up some businesses.
"When it [stops] this will just be the tip of the iceberg," he said.
Mr Blowes said the situation was the same in other Central West towns. "It's not just Orange," he said.
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