Peter Aldous calls for more short-term lets to fill empty high street shops

Waveney MP Peter Aldous on Monday asked Mark Prisk, Minister for Housing, what steps the Government is taking to support local high streets and called on the Government to encourage landlords to let empty premises on a short-term basis.

Mr Aldous decided to urge for greater measures to support short-term lettings having seen firsthand the impact that making use of empty buildings can have on the local community, following the work of the Lowestoft Town Team in preparing the high street for the Portas Pilot plans, which the town successfully won on 25 July.

The Britten Centre in London Road North in Lowestoft had a vacant unit in a prime high street pitch which they let over the summer months to Lowestoft College to promote their courses for the forthcoming year and the result of the exercise was as follows:-

  • the College has been able to recruit students, particularly adults, who otherwise might not have come up to the College to enrol;
  • the College have taken themselves in to the local community with residents commenting on how impressed they were with the work of the students that was showcased in the unit;
  • a unit that might otherwise have remained boarded up has been used so that it was not an eyesore in the town centre and it might well have helped showcase the unit in a positive light in order to help the Britten Centre secure a long term new tenant.

Having long supported greater measures to help local high streets to flourish, Peter commented:

“This type of innovative use will help the appearance of town centres and the Government should help facilitate such short term lettings to promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets that will foster sustainable growth.”

FULL TEXT:

Peter Aldous (Waveney) (Con): What steps his Department is taking to support local high streets. [120888]

The Minister for Housing (Mr Mark Prisk): In response to the Portas review, the Government are taking positive action to help our high streets. That includes strengthening local civic leadership through town team partners and business improvement districts, revitalising local markets and backing small businesses.

...

Peter Aldous: The Lowestoft town team are getting to work on implementing the plans set out in their successful Portas pilot bid. The town centre was enhanced in the summer by Lowestoft college’s short-term lease of an empty shop. Does the Minister plan to encourage landlords to carry out more lettings of that nature?

Mr Prisk: Absolutely; we need to encourage that kind of innovation, and I commend what has happened in respect of Lowestoft college. That is why we have a £10 million high street innovation fund to help those with the highest vacancy rates. We need to get those empty shops back into use, whether as pop-up shops or as in my hon. Friend’s example. It is very important to tackle that aspect of the problem.

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