A “derelict and neglected” Art Deco arcade building needs to be transformed back to its former glory, according to a new community group.

Imperial Arcade in Western Road, Brighton, is lined with empty shops and is “in such a bad state” - said Gary Farmer, who lives in Old Steine.

Mr Farmer, who was an Independent candidate for Regency Ward, which the arcade lies within, has started a group called Save Imperial Arcade.

He wants to encourage people to use the 100 year old arcade and proposed a weekend market and art installations.

The Argus: Imperial Arcade in Brighton is largely abandonedImperial Arcade in Brighton is largely abandoned (Image: The Argus)

Mr Farmer, 52, said the condition of the arcade was a concern for people in the run up to the local elections which Labour won.

He said: “Everyone seemed to take an interest in it. The Imperial Arcade is one of the topics that always caught people’s imagination. They say it’s in such a bad state, derelict and neglected.

“I remember it as a kid walking through it when there were shops, it was a thriving hub for footfall. It was a nice place to be.

“That’s all gone, I walked through last week. It’s derelict, all you get in there is pigeons or people rough sleeping. People avoid it.


“It could be so much better with a little bit of thought or imagination. It’s a beautiful space but it’s a horror show. It’s scary.

“A weekend market with local vendors selling fruit and vegetables, we could speak with the communities and have pop up shops along Imperial Arcade to bring people into the space.

“We could have art installations, think of it at Christmas. You could have it all lit up and have decorations hanging down. It could be an attraction.”

The Argus: Pigeons in Imperial ArcadePigeons in Imperial Arcade (Image: The Argus)

The arcade was built in 1923/24 on the site of a former brewery and originally had 17 shops.

This reduced to eight after Western Road was widened.

The longest serving shops were Gamley’s Toy Shop and Forfars Bakers.

Imperial Arcade has several empty shops in it including Terry’s Shoes and Keys, a fitness shop called BBZ Brighton, Fabric Family, Café Arcadia and a Panasonic shop.

There are two shops on the Dyke Road side that are still open.

The Argus: Gamleys Toy Shop in Imperial Arcade in 1998Gamleys Toy Shop in Imperial Arcade in 1998 (Image: Liz Finlayson/Argus Archive)

Café Arcadia, which was in Imperial Arcade for 20 years, closed in July last year.

The owner of Café Arcadia, who asked not to be named, said the pandemic and other shops being empty were behind them moving.

He said: “The first reason is because other shops are empty and there was the pandemic.

“It wasn’t a very popular arcade anymore.

“The landlord, I couldn’t pay them for several months. I lost my business of 20 years, it was very sad. We had to surrender our lease.”

The Argus: Entrance to Imperial Arcade from Dyke RoadEntrance to Imperial Arcade from Dyke Road (Image: The Argus)

The owner has since opened a Turkish restaurant in North Street called Lavash.

Imperial Arcade is listed on real estate business AEW UK’s website as one of its properties.

Following Labour’s landslide election win last Friday, the party has pledged to support local businesses.

The party wants to enable independent shops to keep prices as low as high street chains and launch a “buy local” campaign to support and facilitate the development of “truly local businesses” across the city.

Labour has been approached for further comment about Imperial Arcade.