Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has used Windows on Willesden to highlight government proposals to scrap restrictions that put off start-up businesses from temporarily using empty high street shops.
Temporary or ‘pop-up’ shops often utilise vacant high street premises until a permanent tenant can be found. One of the barriers to start-up firms can be planning rules that control what type of business a shop can and can’t be used for.
The proposals would scale back the red tape that causes costs shop owners money securing planning permission, over £1200 on average, before a disused shop can be used for a different purpose. Landlords would instead be free to temporarily change the use of an empty shop for two years, something currently not automatically permitted.
Minsters believe this deregulation can help reinvigorate the high street by opening up more affordable places for entrepreneurs to launch start-up businesses, which in turn will re-energise local economies, end the blight of boarded up shops and help landlords meet property costs. Standard temporary leases are also available making it simpler to agree.
Pickles uses the example of two young entrepreneurs in Willesden Green who were able to set up their pop-up boutique, Roses and Strings, thanks to a scheme which brought a parade of shops back in to use after more than a decade.
Eric Pickles said: “Leaving empty shops to rot is a wasted economic opportunity that spoils the town centre – that is why we are proposing to scrap the damaging red tape that is keeping so many boarded up. This change can unleash our young entrepreneurs to open pop-up shops and turn the high streets into an exciting start-up launch pad.”