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Expert OpinionThriving High Street

Revitalise the High Street

An appeal for landlords, local authorities and government to take steps to revitalise our high streets

Grey4Gold coaches and advises many of the 400,000 SME and start-up retailers on how best to compete with the relentless rise of internet shopping and many retailers ‘get it.’

The community, however, that does not get it are: landlords, local authorities and most importantly, government.

Government can’t be happy about the British Retail Consortium’s forecast that 1m of the 3m employed in retail will lose their jobs in the next five years and that high street ‘footflow’ fell 7% last calendar year.

However government has the power to take various steps.

1. It can address the iniquity of the landlord and tenant act by forcing landlords who own shops that have been vacant for more than three months to ‘accept the highest rental offer from a tenant who can prove they have the financial means to pay one year’s rent.’

2. They can legislate for local authorities to claim no more than 40% of that rent.

3. They can cancel the rate free deal that charity shops enjoy.

The result of one of these steps will mean that the value landlords place on their freehold property will fall causing pain to landlords but to no-one else.

Sparse high streets will gradually fill with entrepreneurs who will bring freshness and innovation.

Local authorities will be better off with rateable income coming from more tenants, albeit at lower per square foot rate.

People will return to enjoy a community experience and the disruption caused by online will be addressed.

There is room for both online and bricks and mortar trade.

We really don’t have to witness this ‘murder.’