Local councils to be given power to revitalise high streets by taking over empty shops

West Orchards Shopping Centre Coventry

The Levelling up and Regeneration Bill, expected to be unveiled in the Queen’s speech next week, will give the power to local councils to force landlords to rent out commercial properties on high streets which currently stand empty.

Shops can stand empty for years, blighting the high street and wasting opportunities for new jobs. Councils are expected to be given greater powers to take control of buildings, transforming boarded up shops or derelict buildings into thriving businesses, shared community spaces or housing.

The number of empty shopfronts has soared to 1 in 7 according to the British Retail Consortium, rising to 1 in 5 in the north east, with boarded up and derelict shops blighting highstreets and sapping the life from town centres. New Compulsory Rental Auctions will ensure that landlords auction shops that have been vacant for more than a year to prospective tenants, putting buildings to good use.

The move will create opportunities for new businesses and community groups, paving the way for new jobs to boost employment, strengthening local economies and restoring local pride.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove said: “These measures will breathe new life into high streets, transforming once-bustling communities into vibrant places to live and work once again and restoring local pride as we level up across the country.”

Councils will also be given greater powers to drive regeneration through Compulsory Purchase Orders, making it quicker and easier for councils to use powers to deliver much needed local housing and infrastructure.

Compulsory Purchase Orders allow acquiring authorities, including local public bodies, to acquire buildings without needing the consent of the owner for public benefit. This may include acquiring land to build social housing or other regeneration projects.

To support vibrant high streets and communities thrive, pavement licensing red-tape will be permanently scrapped, freeing up businesses to serve food al fresco and attract diners all year round.