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London's empty shops

 

The London Assembly Economy Committee today launches a review of measures designed to reduce shop vacancies and boost the capital’s 197 high streets.   

 Government figures[1] show shop vacancy rates have been rising nationally since the recession hit in 2008 and data[2] from last year showed one in ten shops in the capital stood empty.  Apart from the recession, competition with out-of-town retail centres and online shopping has also contributed to shop closures.

 As part of its investigation, the Committee will look at:

Measures taken locally and nationally to bring empty shops back into use, including local loyalty schemes, business rate relief for small firms and using the empty space for training residents or as an art gallery.

Mayoral pledges and programmes[3] to support high streets and small businesses programmes, including regeneration programmes, the GLA-funded Portas pilots[4] and the Mayor’s support for Business Improvement Districts. 

The diversity of high street shops, on the back of concerns that empty shops have been filled by betting shops, payday loan firms, pawnbrokers and fast food takeaways.

 Chair of the Economy Committee, Andrew Dismore AM, said:

 “Empty shops are not only a symptom, but a cause of the long-term deterioration of our high streets. Closed shutters detract from the vibrancy of an area and every single one represents the loss of several jobs.  

 “High street shops provide an essential service to many people and we need to ensure everything possible is being done to keep them thriving.”

 As part of the review, the Committee is asking high street shop owners to send in their views on the challenges they are facing, and what support is needed to keep high streets thriving and diverse.  Please email economycommittee@london.gov.uk  The closing date for submissions is 31 August 2012.

 The Committee will publish a report of its findings early next year.  

 

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