London Assembly’s Economy Committee has suggested a number ideas to reverse the decline in London’s high streets, including renegotiating rents and slowing the spread of pawnbrokers and betting shops.
The Assembly said that in 2000, a third of retail spending took place in out of town centres or on the Internet. By 2011 this had increased to 42% – and the number of empty shops in London has increased in the last two years by 5% to 3,400. The report also warns the vacancy increase is contributing to the decline, discouraging shoppers and leading to the closure of other retailers who might otherwise have survived.
The Committee has called for London-wide support to renegotiate rents, a new register of owners of vacant shops so landlords can be easily traced and pop up and interim uses for empty shops.
Andrew Dismore, Chair of the Economy Committee, said: “Our traditionally diverse and interesting high streets are blighted by the number of empty shops which are a deterrent to customers, discourage further investment, and create an air of decline.”
A spokesperson for the Mayor of London said more than £250m was being invested to help bring vacant properties back into use, revitalise shop fronts and to support trade and generate jobs.
“The Mayor welcomes this report and will continue to work with the boroughs, government and business groups to help unlock the economic potential of London’s high streets,” added the spokesperson.