What next for ex-bank #highstreet units…?

Another week, one more list of incoming #highstreet finance sector closures.

Another town, and more conversations about the role the place could play in getting ex- #retail bank or building society units back into use.

It’s a regular recommendation in our #TheVacantShopsAcademy ‘next step’ reports to places we’re working with on tackling empty shops issues commissions: to focus on those already left vacant by departing banks, and others that might be on future lists.

The challenge is that they can be difficult ones to re-let. Often heritage buildings, usually with windows that aren’t ideal for shop displays; layout and facilities inside that need re-formatting, and a landlord that’s got used to high rent levels, but little or no demand from the financial sector to replace like-for-like, sometimes with a lease still in play meaning we’ve the always-tricky assignment process to go thru.

The good news is that there are businesses out there among fast-expanding groups that can be interested in these units.

But otherwise it’s a task the place can help with: could planning and conservation colleagues take a look and set out and promote for would-be occupiers an advisory on what’s required and possible on repurposing. Splitting off upper floors, creating new access, dividing the ground, maybe…?

And can the council or BID, where there is one, try generate interest, maybe from arts & crafts, culture, creative, community, education, health & wellbeing in taking on these spaces, maybe as ‘meanwhile…use’ to start with or by offering grant funding to support refit costs.

If we don’t, they’ll likely sit empty for longer than average. It’s surely worth a try…?

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