Force high street landlords to rent vacant premises and unblock 58,000 stores

Nearly 13,200 shops are ripe for rent in the north and 650,000 jobs have been lost in the UK retail sector over the past five years due to store closures

Empty Main Streets
Empty main roads have devastated the country

Forcing landlords to let vacant shops on high streets could make up to 58,000 premises usable again, according to a think tank.

Analysis by centre-right group Onward found rising vacancy rates meant there were around tens of thousands of vacant shops across the UK.

In the North, almost 13,200 stood empty, just slightly fewer than London’s 13,500 buildings, although the North has fewer shops overall.

Up to 9,000 stores in the Midlands, 3,000 in Scotland and 2,700 in Wales could also start operating again.

New figures show nearly 650,000 UK retail jobs have been lost in the last five years.

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Many areas could be brought back onto the market with forced rents



Onward director Will Tanner said the numbers showed the impact government proposals to conduct foreclosures could have.

Mr Tanner, a former Downing Street adviser under Theresa May, said: “Empty shops are a disgrace on high streets across the country.

“Not only are they a very visible sign that the local economy is in dire need of reconciliation, they are a blow to civic pride.

“Any tenant is better than no tenant at all, so the government is rightly taking steps to address this problem by forcing commercial landlords sitting on vacant businesses to make them available to the community.”

Large commercial property owners such as financial institutions and overseas investors have contributed to long-term vacancies on UK high streets.

There are many vacancies on Britain’s main roads


Graham Young / Birmingham Live)

This type of owner accounts for half of all vacant properties in the UK, according to the report, as they have had little incentive to accept lower rents.

Industry experts are urging the government to exercise caution over the level of business taxes next year to protect the future of high streets.

The Center for Retail Research said that in the five years since 2017, 645,204 retail jobs have been lost and 72,580 stores have closed.

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That included 105,727 jobs lost last year as the continuation of the furlough program kept losses below previous years.

The stark numbers come as high-street firms face a sharp rise in business rates after benefiting from tax breaks during the pandemic.

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Fry Electronics Team

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