“Emergency measures” required to fix London’s high streets

highstreet“Emergency measures” must be put in place to improve the state of the high street, the London Assembly has said.

In its Open for Business report, the organisation said a vicious cycle on the high street has led to an increase in empty shops across the capital – up five percent to 3,400 in the past two years.

Businesses should be encouraged to open pop-up shops in vacant premises to help boost struggling high streets, a London Assembly report said today.

It said outer London high streets were particularly struggling because of tough economic conditions and changes in the retail industry, as people chose to shop at out-of-town centres and online.

However, it also blamed the number of vacant shops as a contributor to the decline, claiming these stores discouraged shoppers, and led to the closure of other retailers that might otherwise have survived.

The Committee has now said it wants immediate action from the Mayor, the Government and local boroughs.

It claims businesses should be encouraged to open pop-up shops in vacant premises to help boost struggling high streets. It also wants an expansion of small business rate relief paid for through a reduction in landlord’s rate relief on empty properties and a new register of owners of vacant shops so landlords can be easily traced.

The report also sets out other ideas to boost high streets, including improving accessibility especially for walkers and cyclists and prioritising turnover of car park spaces over maximising income.

Andrew Dismore AM, Chair of the Economy Committee, said: “The Mayor, the Government and local boroughs need urgently to follow our recommendations to bring empty shops back into use, stop the rot and so help our local high streets thrive again.“

The Committee also suggests boroughs should have powers to control any plans for betting shops, payday loan shops or pawnbrokers, to encourage more diversity in London’s high streets.