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What can be done about empty shops?

(36 Posts)
Toblerone345 Thu 16-Jul-20 20:47:59

Just that, really! I went into town the other day and noticed a lot more empty shops than when I last went to town back in March. This isn't massively surprising given what's going on at the moment, but it's been a problem for years and years and seems to be getting worse in most places across the country, from what I've read. It's got me thinking about what can be done to prevent this (in the long term, not necessarily anything coronavirus related) or at least to stop the units from falling into disrepair. There are some gorgeous buildings here that have been empty for over a year.

Does anyone have the solution? Does anyone live somewhere that has a success story in terms of turning around a dying high street? I can't really think of anything other than reducing rents, but nobody can make that happen other than the landlords. I remember 10 years ago or so the council where I used to live encouraged artists and charities to use empty units to display their work and it made everything look less drab, but not sure if it made much difference.

OP’s posts: |
yeOldeTrout Thu 16-Jul-20 22:11:23

dunno. My town is similar.

PercyKirke Thu 16-Jul-20 22:45:56

Some of the small corner shops in our town have been turned into small houses.

slipperywhensparticus Thu 16-Jul-20 22:49:19

Its being turned into housing its actually quite close to transport links in my area so its not bad

Sadly half of our shops are owned by overseas investors who charge sky high rent dont care if they have tenants or not and refuse to sell so half has been turned into housing half has been left to quietly rot

purpledagger Thu 16-Jul-20 23:48:44

I'd like to see them used for start up or small businesses. Short term leases for free should be offered to people who may want to get an idea off the ground and test the market. Or pop up shops which can be rented daily.

Pop up art galleries where people could display their art or items off local historic interest. Or school children to present their work.

isntthatnice Fri 17-Jul-20 00:59:07

Nothing can be done because of greedy landlords.

Business rates are ridiculous too which is why my town is full of kebab shop and charity shops.

midsomermurderess Fri 17-Jul-20 06:17:12

But weirdlykebab shops can pay these sky high rents charged by greedy landlords. Christ, the witlessness.

isntthatnice Fri 17-Jul-20 08:05:58

Actually yes, they can.
My town centre has about 25-30 takeaways, numerous charity shops and not much else. Even our market closed down.

Charity shops get a reduction in business rates and the takeaways make a fortune judging by the queues.

BernadetteRostankowskiWolowitz Fri 17-Jul-20 08:09:09

Maybe the small shops in a town centre should be owned and managed by the council's?

ShesMadeATwatOfMePam Fri 17-Jul-20 08:12:08

Rents are ridiculous. There's a large shop in my town which is just off the main thoroughfare, so reduced footfall and the rent they are asking is £45k per year. It's been empty for about 10 years and its getting incredibly shabby.

TheGreatWave Fri 17-Jul-20 08:20:52

A town near me has plans in motion (from before covid) to knock down one of the shopping centres, move those shops into the 2nd shopping area (which is council owned) then landscape the area where the old centre was.

Very big ambitious plans admittedly.

user1573957284738 Fri 17-Jul-20 08:26:52

Maybe high streets are dying because the concept has reached the end of its life and it's time for us to move on and embrace/nurture a different way. Nothing lasts forever.

BogRollBOGOF Fri 17-Jul-20 08:36:07

There is over provision of retail space, particularly on the periphery of town centres as businesses relocate and contract inwards. In areas like this, planning needs to make it easier to convert to other uses.

Land costs/ rates are the greatest obstacle at any level. When providers like INTU are in trouble, it's a bad sign. Our centre has high levels of vacancy due to the cost of locating there, but they can't afford to drop the costs either.

Plus large units like former BHS seem to have had their day. Then if you divide them into more managable units, that's more to have to rent out. The likes of Debehams, John Lewis and House of Fraser joining that list makes it harder and harder to manage and adapt.

We now have gyms along our High St in some of the larger units, but there is a capacity on that.

Aroundtheworldin80moves Fri 17-Jul-20 08:36:30

One empty shop near here is used as a community space. For example in December it's the Christmas 'shop' (new toys are donated, those on low incomes invited to 'shop' for children's Christmas presents).

Maybe some can be turned into hot desk hubs since apparently offices are dying too now?

goose124 Fri 17-Jul-20 08:38:16

can't remember the last time I browsed in a shop. Internet shopping has slowly taken over and was always going to end the idea of high street shopping.

reesewithoutaspoon Fri 17-Jul-20 08:44:24

reasons I no longer go to the town centre if I can help it

Parking is expensive
The one way system is a nuisance
Limited choice, you only get what the buyers have decided is in season/trendy this year as opposed to the vast choice on the internet. If I wanted a pair of orange jeggings with spots on I can be pretty certain no shop in town would have them, but I could probably find them on the internet. Also I can shop around and get the best deal.

I have internet shopped for about 20 years. I prefer the convenience of having stuff delivered to my door and the postage costs are not much different than the amount I would spend on petrol and parking.

Wingingitsince2018 Fri 17-Jul-20 08:56:35

I work for a recreation business and we have been approached by several shopping centres to use empty units on a reduced rent, to increase footfall. The issue is then trying to get a change of use from A1 to D2 premises use.

I also think more places should be open to short term lets for small businesses so they can operate pop-up shops as can be tricky to find outside of London.

stellabelle Fri 17-Jul-20 09:05:10

Our town has almost completely removed this problem. About 10 years ago when I first moved here, I counted at least 30 empty shops which made the entire place look sad and unwanted. The local council took this problem, and turned things around by filling those shops. Landlords were contacted and they were given grants to lower their rental prices so businesses could afford to rent there. And the council also rented some of the shops themselves, and made them available to local artists and small businesses for free .

Suddenly we had shops filled with paintings, pottery, home made toys, second-hand books and records , you name it. It was a wonderful change - the whole town benefited from the fresh appearance of the area, and more shoppers came to patronise the shops.

The town hasn't looked back - for once everyone agrees that the council did a good job.

wowfudge Fri 17-Jul-20 09:16:37

The high street and shopping centres are outdated with internet shopping and also the dominance of supermarkets in our economy. The obvious thing would be to convert unwanted shop units into housing as there is a national shortage. Developers have already been turning office buildings into apartments in many places.

@stellabelle - which town is this as it sounds really interesting?

DannyNedelko Fri 17-Jul-20 09:26:21

The taxation of shops, through business rates, is far too high. Online retailers, including those with huge distribution centres, pay far less, relatively, and have a huge advantage.

Destroyedpeople Fri 17-Jul-20 09:29:00

Yes I am afraid for small towns like where I went to university. Half the shops are now boarded up.
Unless people own the freehold or are big enough to take the hit they're finished.
Greedy 'round table' landlords don't help.

wowfudge Fri 17-Jul-20 10:15:38

Some of those online retailers are making a fortune whilst paying no tax. I believe that situation has to change. Those paying no tax have an unfair advantage over bricks and mortar retailers.

RedCatBlueCat Fri 17-Jul-20 10:28:22

Oh, @TheGreatWave I wonder if we use the same high st, or if more than one council have similar plans?

Our high st has decided they cant compete with the next town over, or with the nearby retail park. We have the most amazing events - festivals like a mini edinburgh fringe, massive bike events, we have had the city games (athletics on the highstreet).
They have basically turned the high street in to a n ever small number of shops (because they are flattening one area) and then use the space to bring people to the area.

fascinated Fri 17-Jul-20 10:32:59

reesewithoutaspoon

reasons I no longer go to the town centre if I can help it

Parking is expensive
The one way system is a nuisance
Limited choice, you only get what the buyers have decided is in season/trendy this year as opposed to the vast choice on the internet. If I wanted a pair of orange jeggings with spots on I can be pretty certain no shop in town would have them, but I could probably find them on the internet. Also I can shop around and get the best deal.

I have internet shopped for about 20 years. I prefer the convenience of having stuff delivered to my door and the postage costs are not much different than the amount I would spend on petrol and parking.

This.

I would go for

Soft play or other pleasant environment with short term childcare / entertainment option so I can sit in peace

Coffee food etc

Post office

Bike repair

Naice Shopping eg gifts / art

Shoe shopping esp sth well designed for children. But with enough stock to be realistic.

Art gallery cinema theatre etc

Gym

Swim

Library

Doctor

Hobbies eg place to learn sewing

Scouts etc

Lots of options.

TheGreatWave Fri 17-Jul-20 11:02:06

@RedCatBlueCat It sounds like it probably is. I prefer it to the other town. I think it will be fantastic when it is finished.

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