We Made That were commissioned by the Local Government Association to produce best practice guidance to inform local authorities about what they can do to address the issue of vacant units in high streets and town centres. The guidance document has now been published and is available here.
This research is in response to growing vacancy on high streets and town centres, worsened by the significant reduction in demand for products and services from high streets as a result of the pandemic and associated restrictions. The impact of this is that many high street businesses, from individual units to large department stores, are reducing their presence in town centres - leaving the area and remaining neighbouring businesses with potential negative long-term consequences.
Councils will be keen to avoid a downward spiral and may decide to intervene, especially in those areas where it is clear that properties will never return to their former retail use. Our research presents a framework of best practice case studies on interventions, including opportunities for the provision of public or community services in former retail property, as well as a series of available council powers and funding sources used to tackle vacancy.