New powers for communities to regenerate high streets by filling empty shops to be introduced this summer

The Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities has announced that new powers for communities to regenerate high streets and fill empty shops will be in force by the summer of 2024.

High Street Rental Auctions, a new local authority power to combat high street vacancy, will allow 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 improve their high streets and tackle wide-ranging issues stemming from prolonged high street emptiness exacerbated by the coronavirus 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 quickly as possible, the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities 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. 

The full press release is available on the GOV.UK website, while the government’s response to the consultation on the implementation of High Street Rental Auctions can also be found on the GOV.UK website.