High street rental auctions could be game-changer

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A new government bill that gives local councils powers to run compulsory auctions on vacant shop units could be a “game-changer” says the retail industry support group Save The High Street. 

The proposal, part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill (passed on 26 October), would give local authorities the power to insist that landlords rent out commercial properties that have been vacant for more than 12 months in a 24-month period. The bill stipulates that the street or area in which the unit is located must be important to the local economy and that the unit has been unoccupied for 12 months within a 24-month period. The property would need to be suitable for high street use and – as a retail business – beneficial to the local economy, society, or environment. 

Save The High Street says that it will be working proactively with councils on rental auction planning. 

The group says: “(This) has the potential to be game-changing legislation with implications for councils, landlords and town/city centres more broadly.

“We will also be providing landlords with new solutions to repopulate their vacant units. From creating incubators that give growing independents a chance to easily test their offering locally, to bringing empty department stores back to life, and more.”

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