High Street Rental Auctions Can Drive Investment And Regeneration

New powers will be introduced which will see communities combat empty shops regenerating high streets and will be in force by the summer, the government has announced.

The scheme will give local authorities the ability to instigate an auction on properties that have remained vacant, with the ambition to remove empty sites and encourage new business investment in high streets, allowing local leaders who know their area best to take control of empty properties blighting their high streets and rent them out to local businesses that want use them.

The new powers will help councils level up their high streets and tackle wide-ranging issues stemming from prolonged high street emptiness exacerbated by the pandemic, such as low footfall which leads to struggling businesses, increased unemployment and anti-social behaviour.

Where a high street shop has been empty for over a year, High Street Rental Auctions will allow local leaders to step in and auction off a rental lease for up to five years. Auctions will take place with no reserve price, giving local businesses and community groups the opportunity to occupy space on the high street at a competitive market rate.

To help get High Street Rental Auctions up and running as soon as possible, the government is launching new ‘trailblazer’ programme so it can work with a number of communities who are keen to lead the way in quickly implementing the new powers. There will also be a £2 million support pot to help them and other local authorities to get started across the summer.

Kate Nicholls, Chief Executive of UKHospitality, said:
“The Government is right to identify hospitality as the bellwether of local economies. When hospitality thrives, the high street comes alive. When the sector faces challenges, like it does now, we see more and more empty plots available.

“The proposals to allow vacant properties to be brought into use via auction will create opportunities for hospitality businesses to move into high streets, generating local investment and creating places where people want to live.

“I’m pleased that protections for pub sites have been addressed and this will help protect the cultural and historic role pubs play in our society.

“For businesses to capitalise on the investment potential created by these plans, we need to see the cost burden for hospitality addressed. Financial headroom is essential for businesses to take advantage of these opportunities, alongside urgent improvements to the planning system.”