Manifesto time…?

I’m not sure how much of the campaign cake #highstreet and specifically tackling vacancy will get, maybe a small slice given other priorities.

But now we know places can halve their headline vacancy rate and by doing things all towns and cities can do, why wouldn’t it appeal.

We know how to do this, and #TheVacantShopsAcademy #HighstreetsManifesto sets out what we’d need. Even the new government giving us just the first of them would take a chunk off the national 14% rate.

🙏 So here goes…!

  • Ask (and resource) every local authority to report on vacancy numbers twice a year, and work with agents, landlords, businesses, community and BID where there is one to overcome barriers to let to include…
  • Give them scope to override national use class guidance and permitted development rules in line with local priorities;
  • Create new powers to end business rates avoidance and evasion and allow flexibility to incentivise tackling vacancy eg around thresholds, ‘fit to occupy’, listed building charity (and CIC) and second unit reliefs;

🪜 Strengthen (and resource) regulations to enforce minimum ‘fit to occupy’ standards on all highstreet buildings;

  • Sweep away the additional letting requirements on councils when they are landlords so that local authorities are all beacons of good practice;

🤳🏽 Require every vacant highstreet unit to be marketed with a registered agent and the place to have a publicly available empty & available units listing;

  • Change the process which keep units empty when the previous tenant went into administration or left with time to go on their lease;

💷 Build funds to support #community right to buy including the co-ordination and #property skills to make it happen and be sustainable;

  • Develop a series of #popup use projects leading to longer pilots based on successful examples for arts & crafts, culture, creative and community uses;

🏥 Mandate all NHS Trusts to work with their places to develop accessible first contact & diagnostic services in town & city centres;

  • Encourage and resource places to ‘audit’ and develop strategies to reduce un- and under-used space on upper floors of vacant and occupied units.

🤔 What would you add / adjust…?

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