The government will unveil legislation punishing commercial landlords who leave high street shops empty for over a year in today’s Queen’s speech.
Councils will be given new powers to hold compulsory rental auctions, enabling councils to buy up properties with a view to letting them out to businesses.
The “Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill” will also allow pubs and restaurants to use pavements for al fresco dining permanently, in a bid to liven up the high street.
Prime Minister, Boris Johnson said: “High streets up and down the country have long been blighted by derelict shopfronts, because they’ve been neglected, stripping opportunity from local areas.
“We are putting that right by placing power back in the hands of local leaders and the community so our towns can be rejuvenated, levelling up opportunity and restoring neighbourhood pride.”
While some sectors of the industry have responded positively to the plans, the British Property Federation has labelled compulsory auctions a “political gimmick”, saying the real reasons for boarded up properties are the burden of business rates and other occupational costs.
One in seven high street shops are currently left empty, according to the British Retail Consortium.
Housing Secretary Michael Gove said: “By empowering local communities to rent out shops which have been sat empty for a year or longer, we will end the scourge of boarded up shops that have blighted some of our great towns across the country for far too long.
“These measures will breathe new life into high streets, transforming once-bustling communities into vibrant places to live and work once again and restoring local pride as we level up across the country.”