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Landlords to be forced to let out empty shops

Newspapers have been told by the government that next month’s Queen's Speech will include dramatic measures to bring empty retail units back into use.

This applies to shops that have been empty for six months or longer.

Councils will have the powers to force landlords to let shops through a compulsory rental auction.


Landlords will be given a short period to find a commercial occupier before local authorities invite bids from interested parties which could include community organisations and charities.

A government source told the Daily Mail over the weekend: “The government’s mission to level up will breathe new life into these great towns and end the scourge of boarded up shops sucking the soul out of once bustling high streets.”

It is reported that currently a record 16 per cent of shops across the country stand empty.

A spokeswoman for industry body UK Hospitality tells The Times this could be a way to bring more people into town centres.

“We welcome these new proposals to rejuvenate empty properties, which can blight an area, stimulate innovation and accelerate economic growth and recovery” she says.

The Queen’s Speech is on May 10.

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  • icon

    So the High Street will be full of charity shops, will that attract the right kind of shoppers into towns and cities ?

    John  Adams

    Utter nonsense. Far worse, are the boarded up windows, covered in graffiti, old mouldy posters and blocked weedy gutters. An occupied shop be it by a charity, retailer, or community group ensures that the fabric of the building is better maintained, and the overall area less threatening in feel to passers-by


    @John Adams

    Idealistic nonsense.

    This is already happening in my town. My wife works at a high level in public sector procurement and personally knows the head of the council department who deal with this, along with allocation of council owned buildings. They stopped advertising their own buildings for rent years ago, they just maintain them, at tax payers cost, and 'invite' people to pitch ideas on how to use these buildings. If those ideas don't involve an element of social contribution, or the arts, then you have zero chance whatsoever. Bog standard, traditional, economically productive businesses? Not interested.

    Empty shops and pubs have been taken over by charities and non profits. At the last count there are 2 homeless organisations, 2 drug rehabilitation organisations, and 4 refugee centres in the centre of a town with a 95,000 population. The result is a town centre that is the absolute and utter pits. The main road through the centre has drug addicts openly injecting, crime is rife and if you think this atmosphere is less threatening, I can assure you as a 6ft, well built man who has lived here 42 years, it's never been more threatening.

  • icon

    This idea needs to go much further and landlords of empty deteriorating properties have them compulsory purchased after a set amout of time
    and then used for apartments above small retail/hospitality units at sensible rents. This would breathe life into declining towns, encourage more people to work locally and not use cars quite so much. I have, for a number of years despaired at the empty flats above shops and am not convinced it is too difficult for them to be shared spaces. With the Ukraine crisis what a great use of empty living space.

  • John  Adams

    It's about time, some commercial and retail has sat empty for decades, and not just off some forlorn village back alley either, so what if it means that they are turned into charity shops?, it's better than boarded up windows covered in graffiti and peeling posters. It might get some of these big commercial owners to start to think about charging an affordable rent, there are small-sized shops in my local town which has a low population, where the rent is more than £750,000 pa and they sit empty because of it, despite many small start-ups that could flourish if the rent was anywhere near reality.

  • Fery  Lavassani

    Today shops, tomorrow houses. What if the poor unit owner cannot find a decent tenant? After Covid most businesses are on line. Not much demand for high street retail units. This will not work. If the owner is pushed, he simply rent it to his son!!

  • icon

    The last time I went to Amsterdam, there were very interesting displays in many of the shop windows.

    I think they were promoting beds and red lamps judging from what I could see behind the more interesting displays.

    Why don't we put empty shops to the same use?

  • icon

    As a landlord of both commercial and residential property I am not really motivated by more government intervention by being told who to let my property to. However on the flip side if a unit has stood empty for over 6 months I would guess that the asking rent is too high . Empty properties don't make money .

  • icon

    Forced to let out empty shops !!! Forced .......... oh i can see this going so well. If we need to force landlords to rent the place then i cannot see how the business which then goes into it will survive.

    So we will have lots of vape shops, charity shops, community hubs....aka drug addicts meeting place..... oh how this country is on the wain.

  • George Dawes

    What about improving parking , replacing business rates ?

    Or is that too complex for the usual council morons ?


    Totally agree!

    The main reason why large out of town retail parks do so well is PLENTY of FREE parking.

    If High Street parking weren't so difficult to find, so expensive - and risked an even more expensive parking fine for misjudging how long it would take - I believe we wouldn't have had such a decline in the typical High Street.

    I remember about 40 years ago, before most of the retail parks appeared, many of the residents of Glasgow suburbs flocked to the nearby East Kilbride new town shopping centre, which had free parking and almost all of the big name shops close together. It was so popular that the "powers that were" decided to build more shops on - yes, you've guessed it, more than half of the existing car park! Footfall fell (predictably) so for their next trick they made the existing outdoor and level (but now much smaller) car park into a multi storey - and decided to charge for it! Apart from the added cost, many people, especially women, avoid multi storey car parks, so the footfall fell even further and the once vibrant shopping centre is now nearly dead. M&S have faced court action with their attempts to close or massively downscale their "anchor store" which they apparently are committed to keep open for quite a long time to come.

    Of course, lessons will NOT be learned, no matter how often politicians use that phrase!

  • George Dawes

    A free country , a democracy , what a joke we’ve become

    Just rent your shop or we’ll take it off You , I can see residential coming soon …

    You’ll own nothing and they’ll be happy

  • icon

    Obviously Boris is barking mad ! Think Amazon etc no rates for them and l don't think they pay much corporation tax, if any !


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