Planning and the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill
In the run-up to the Queen’s Speech, the government confirmed a number of features that will appear in its Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill.
A particularly contentious element sees local authorities given powers to force compulsory rent auctions of properties that have not been occupied on UK high streets for over a year. The government has also already confirmed the Bill will see councils given greater powers to drive regeneration through compulsory purchase orders.
Last week the government said compulsory rent auctions will “enable local leaders to force landlords to rent out commercial properties, revitalising high streets, rejuvenating town centres, and restoring community pride in their home towns”. The proposals have so far proven deeply unpopular with many in the property industry, particularly given a perceived continued failure to reform business rates, which is the critical issue for many.
The Shopkeepers Campaign says the measures, which were first set out in the Levelling Up White Paper, are “intriguing”.
Vivienne King, chair, says while the current proposals appear punitive, “we look forward to discussing with the government how they envisage incentivising investment into high streets and town centres”.
“Far more important than incentivising owners is how to incentivise retailers to take on shop leases at a time when business rates are so high,” King adds. “The government has accepted that business rates for retail must be cut and in its 2019 Manifesto, the Conservative Party promised to implement cuts.
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