17 Jan Empty shops could be converted into Community Hubs
Empty shops could be converted into community hubs under Government plans to reinvigorate UK high streets. Boarded-up shops could be converted into gyms, tearooms, youth clubs and advice centres to breathe new life into ‘ghost towns’.
Communities Secretary James Brokenshire MP is hoping his Open Doors project to create community hubs will tackle social problems linked to declining town centres, including crime, unemployment and loneliness. The scheme aims to match landlords of empty shops with community groups who can use the properties on a temporary basis. Mr Brokenshire said:
“We need to be imaginative in tackling the social and economic challenges our communities face. That is why I’m delighted to be launching the new Open Doors project that will see empty shops being opened up to community groups offering services to the most vulnerable in our communities.”
Ministers hope the “open doors” project will attract people back into city centres and support local business traders.
Under the plan, landlords of disused shop units will be teamed up with community groups offering key services to younger and older people. Teams of experts will help strike temporary contract deals to get the high street buzzing once again.
Spotlight on Windsor
More than a year after closing, the former Fenwick store in Windsor Yards continues to lie empty, while the old my Local store in Peascod Street remains unused. Independent shops in Windsor town centre have also closed in recent months, with O’Driscolls Fishmongers in St Leonards Road shutting following the retirement of the owner.
Windsor, Ascot and Eton town manager Paul Roach said that anything that can support footfall on the high street is good but we just need to look at the detail at what the Government is proposing.
More than 100,000 jobs have been lost in town centres over the past three years as the rise of internet shopping drove major retail firms to the wall.
Last year alone, the high street lost a total of 1,800 shops, with major chains such as House of Fraser and BHS falling into administration and retail giants like M&S closing branches. Bosses blame the rise of Amazon and other online shopping sites – whose overheads are much lower – for driving shoppers away from town centres.
If you would like advice on retail property in the Windsor & Maidenhead area please contact Kieran Webber or Mark Harris on 01628 439006.