Forcing landlords to let empty shops: will it save the high street? – Andrew Denye speaks to React News
One in seven shops across the country now sits empty, according to the British Retail Consortium, causing a devasting domino effect on nearby hospitality businesses.
In an attempt to reinvigorate the UK’s high streets and solve the growing issue of unoccupied retail properties, the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (to be announced in the forthcoming Queen’s speech) is expected to include plans to force landlords to let out empty shops. But how will this work in practice?
Commercial Real Estate Partner and Head of Retail, Andrew Denye, says, “The policy assumes that there are hordes of landlord out there deliberately choosing not to rent out their premises, as well as an equal number of potential occupiers who would like to take the space, but feel unable to negotiate with landlords, yet somehow would be willing to jump into a completely new concept in this rental auction… My concern is that those two assumptions are just wrong.”
Emphasising the vast costs involved in implementing such a scheme, Denye is concerned that compulsory rent auctions would only work for the “better empty units” as “community hubs and small businesses are not likely to want to take on a unit which requires capital expenditure”.
Whilst fully supportive of local level high street revival schemes, Denye believes a “one size fits all approach” such as this proposed initiative is “very optimistic”.