Open for Business: Economy Committee investigation into empty shops on London's high streets
OPEN FORBUSINESSEmpty shops onLondon’s high streetsEconomy Committeeinvestigation into the viabilityof London’s high streets
1 The London Assembly’s Economy Committee has been investigating the problem of empty shops on London’s high streets. We have visited high streets across the capital to speak to local traders and called in experts to City Hall to discuss possible solutions.
2 There are about 3,400 empty shops on London’s high streets. Vacancy has risen as people’s shopping habits change, but the problem has been exacerbated by economic conditions. We have devised an emergency package of measures to address this.
3 Small high street businesses are facing particular difficulties. Lease terms often mean that rents rise even as turnover is falling, and business rates are an additional burden. We recommend support for lease renegotiation and an extension of Small Business Rate Relief.
4 Many businesses find it hard to track down the landlords of high street units. This makes it less likely that empty shops can be used for innovative ‘pop-up’ initiatives, like this gallery in Camden Town. To address this we recommend the Mayor set up a new register of empty shop owners.
5 Diversity is essential to maintain a thriving high street, but in many areas there is an over-concentration of betting shops, pawnbrokers and payday loan shops. We recommend stronger local planning powers so councils can impose limits where necessary.
6 High streets that have one owner tend to perform better. In other areas, setting up a Business Improvement District (BID) can help local traders make strategic improvements jointly. We recommend that the Mayor offers more support to businesses seeking to establish a BID.
To read the report & find out more about the investigation, please visit: www.london.gov.uk/empty-shopsClick on the report to visit investigation page