POST HOUSE WYND used to be one of the most bustling streets in Darlington town centre.

These days, it seems there are more shops available for let than there are open for business.

Many shoppers and shop owners in the little thoroughfare linking High Row and Skinnergate say the rapid decline is down to one main issue - parking.

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It is evident people are choosing to spend their money in the region’s shopping centres with free parking facilities such as the MetroCentre, and Teesside Park, instead of paying to park in Darlington.

Others point to the rise of online shopping and the economic gloom of recent years as reasons for the decline.

Gail Harker, owner of Lady J Lingerie, said: “It’s hard for us to compete with the main high street shops. We’re trying to offer something different in order to draw people here, but it’s difficult.”

Les McGhee, of Asquiths jeweller, added: “The street has a history of jewellers and that’s why we moved here 17 years ago.

“Now Bramwells and Hoopers have gone. It’s like skittles, once one goes, we will all go.”

Other shops that have departed Post House Wynd in recent months are Parker tools, Seasons cafe, Ventur photography, and the popular Nearly Naked Chef deli.

Shopper Marilyn Scoffin said: “It’s a lovely street and it’s such a shame.”

The pretty little street used to have a very high footfall. Most shop owners say this was the reason they chose base themselves there in the first place.

That has declined in recent years.

Alex Hirst, manager of Darlington’s business improvement district company, Distinct Darlington, highlighted the positive.

She said: “It is unfortunate to see a higher proportion of empty units in Post House Wynd. However, compared with the national average of 13 per cent, Darlington’s vacant shop rate fares better, at nine per cent, and this is continuing to improve.

“This demonstrates that in a difficult economic climate, Darlington town centre is continuing to develop above and beyond the national picture.

“Several small business owners on the street say they are looking for alternative premises as rent is too high and overheads are hard to cover when business is not at his best.

Staffs are losing their jobs and livelihoods are being put at risk, so for Post House Wynd, things may get worse before they get better.