Vacant shops in Sheffield could reopen under plan to force landlords to let them out after six months

Landlords could be forced to let out vacant shops under radical plans to breathe life into high streets.

Thursday, 21st April 2022, 12:35 pm

Stores that have been empty for more than six months - like Debenhams on The Moor - could be subject to a Compulsory Rental Auction.

Local authorities will be able to trigger the process and invite bids from interested parties.

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Last month, Adrian Wallace, boss of MHA London, which owns the building, said there was interest, but ‘nothing substantial’.

Ministers hope this will reduce the number of boarded-up shops while creating new opportunities for local businesses and community groups and helping to increase footfall and spending in town centres.

WHICH STORES COULD BE COMPULSORILY LET OUT?

On Fargate, a premium shopping street in Sheffield city centre, just 23 of 40 units are occupied, many have been empty for months.

On The Moor, Debenhams has been unused since the chain went out of business in May last year.

Last month, Adrian Wallace, boss of MHA London, which owns the building, said there was interest, but ‘nothing substantial’.

A government source told the Daily Mail: “The Government’s mission to level up will breathe new life into these great towns and end the scourge of boarded-up shops sucking the soul out of once-bustling high streets.”

The new powers will be introduced as part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which will be announced in the Queen’s Speech next month.

Across the country, one in seven shops is sitting empty according to latest figures from the British Retail Consortium.

Debenhams on The Moor was among 118 shut down by administrators with the loss of 12,000 jobs. Online retailer Boohoo bought the brand for £55m.

MHA bought the building for a bargain £1.5m after its value plunged from £2.7m – a saving of £1.2m.

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