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Plans For Radical Overhaul Of UK High Streets Proposed

The new plans would see local organisations take a larger role in reviving their high streets.

A thinktank that is backed by High Street Taskforce Chair Mark Robinson has published plans for the revival of the derelict buildings on the UK’s high streets.

The Radix thinktank has proposed new localised partnerships between social enterprises, councils and national landlords to create a High Street Buyout Fund and give social enterprises support to identify new uses for empty high street buildings, bringing businesses back to failing high streets.

Radix is backed by the British Property Federation as well as a coalition of retailers, local authorities, landlords, investors, law firms such as Shoosmiths and community organisations. Its new report, Platform for Places, states that the new buyout fund could work as a springboard for reviving town centres that have been hit by the closure of both independent and chain retailers in recent years. 

The proposals are based on bringing to scale successful case studies from Oxfordshire, Sheffield, Belfast, Islington, Plymouth and elsewhere.

Once created the High Street Buyout fund would be given scope to move at the pace of the market to purchase empty high street property and build long-term resilience in town centres.

“A Platform for Places is a new community-led strategy to revive our high streets, based on practical experience of what works. It is led from the bottom up, but the opportunity exists for the government to turbocharge its impact by taking on board these proposals to bring vibrancy, increased footfall and new revenue to struggling town centres,” Radix chief executive Ben Rich said.

Another measure included in the report was targeted business rate relief for socially trading organisations, set at a minimum of 50% of their ordinary business rates bill.

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities was also urged to direct local authorities to adopt community lettings policies to enable council property teams to lease or sell assets on favourable terms, to support local social enterprise.

A consultation process should be launched around Community Right to Buy, to help community groups purchase long-term vacant or derelict property (as in Scotland), with suitable protections for landowners.

The report also looks to give support, as a last resort, for councils to use CPOs to tackle buildings that are long-term vacant or derelict without a valid reason.

“The aim of Platform for Places is to put forward workable solutions for revitalising our high streets — maximising the power of real estate and driving economic growth," Shoosmiths Real Estate partner Nathan Rees said. 

“This hinges on successfully bringing together public and private partners and ensuring that the proposals put forward are commercially viable for landlords and investors, as well as community-led or smaller businesses that can maximise under-utilised or vacant assets.”

Related Topics: Mark Robinson, Shoosmiths