Academy locations taking ‘next steps’…

Three encouraging pieces of news this week from #highstreet locations we’re working with #TheVacantShopsAcademy.

First from Aberdeen where the city council has “committed a further £500,000 to the Union Street Empty Shops Grant Scheme – bringing the total investment up to £1 million – given the level of interest.”

🪜 “The initiative, which launched in July 2023, offers match-funded grants of up to £35,000 to new tenants or landlords to support physical works required for new uses of vacant units.”

A way for the place to help overcome a common barrier to letting vacant units – the often-seen impasse between landlords and would-be occupiers over who funds the cost of readying the unit and fit out – is a feature of the majority of our ‘next steps’ suggestions to locations we’re working with, and was one of the priority conclusions in our set for the BID here. So it’s good to see there’s been enough take up to warrant further investment.

📉 In the same report it was noted that “the number of vacant units on Union Street decreased from 47 in September 2022 to 37 in February 2024.”

This was clear from our recent visit to start another ‘next steps’ initiative – a study of upper floors use, barriers and options – and is great to see. As part of that project we’re re-running our vacancy ‘audit’ with early signs suggesting that headline number is dropping further.

🔑 The other cheering update was from Sunderland where we’ve been working with its BID on our tackling vacancy approach since last summer. They’ve confirmed plans to build on the work to date by “pushing forward with our #retail strategy using the insight that the vacant property ‘audit’ has provided…working with landlords and agents and Sunderland City Council to make sure we transform our city in a more sustainable way which complements the massive investment that’s taking place.”

11 years experience of empty shops projects has shown that where agents, landlords, businesses, community, councils and BID where there is one work together on this, vacancy reduces more quickly and sustainably and the mix of uses improves, so it’s brilliant to see the progress in Aberdeen and Sunderland and I hope they’ll be a beacon for more places to adopt the approach…!

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