This report from the London Assembly sets out a package of emergency and longer term measures to break the vicious cycle on the high street which has led to an increase in empty shops across the capital – up five per cent to 3,400 in the past two years.
Open for Business says outer London high streets are particularly struggling, predominantly because of tough economic conditions and because people increasingly shop at out-of-town centres and online.
The Assembly Economy Committee warns the vacancy increase is contributing to the decline, discouraging shoppers, and leading to the closure of other retailers that might otherwise have survived.
They call for immediate action from the Mayor, the Government and local boroughs and propose a package of emergency and longer term measures to reverse the decline and bring empty shops into use. These include:
- London-wide support to renegotiate rents.
- An expansion of small business rate relief paid for through a reduction in landlord’s rate relief on empty properties
- A new register of owners of vacant shops so landlords can be easily traced.
- Changing planning rules so boroughs can address the rise in the number of pawnbrokers – of which there has been a 94.8 per cent increase since January 2010 – betting shops and payday loan shops.
- Pop-up and interim uses for empty shops.