Retailers face ‘soaring’ costs from vacant buildings on high streets

The ACS is urging the government to address vacant properties on high streets, which are impacting businesses and local communities

Trade body the ACS has urged the government to address the rise in vacant properties, which are having a ‘detrimental impact’ on shop owners on high streets and in communities.

During the Spring Budget 2023, a consultation was launched to review the scale of avoidance, evasion, and poor rating agent behaviour in the business rates system. This was created to protect essential funding for local services.

The ACS has outlined the support needed for the restructuring of Empty Property Relief, which is a business rates relief provided by the local council if your property is partly empty.

The trade body’s aim is to incentivise landlords to fill vacant properties on high streets and highlight the negative impact that empty properties have on businesses and communities.

OPINION: Shop crime must be reported if we are to stamp it out – James Lowman, chief executive, ACS

In the submission, the ACS is urging the government to ensure these properties are filled at a quicker rate.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “There’s a need for deeper examination to understand the core reasons as to why properties are vacant in the first place.

“Businesses, including local shops, face soaring operating costs continue to rise at an eye-watering rate, and as a result, for many it has become almost impossible for them to continue trading and has deterred businesses from occupying new spaces.”

The ACS has also called on the government to clampdown on rogue agents who are exploiting the high demand in the market.

Last week, one independent retailer told Better Retailing they had seen more estate agents list stores with “unrealistic markups” to take advantage of this, and advised that retailers should check if an estate agent has professional accreditation.

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