Empty River Island and Debenhams stores converted into climate emergency centres

climate emergency centres
Owners of vacant premises have the option to reduce their business rates payments by up to 100% through leasing the property for community benefit
// Vacant high street units are being converted into climate emergency centres
// The units were left empty due to the change in consumers’ shopping habits

Many high street retail units including the likes of Debenhams, Homebase and River Island across England and Wales have been converted into climate emergency centres “for the benefit of people and planet”.

The units were left empty due to the change in consumers’ shopping habits following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Owners of vacant premises have the option to reduce their business rates payments by up to 100 per cent through leasing the property for community benefit to a not-for-profit or charitable organisation, such as a climate emergency centre (CEC).


READ MORE: 16 retailers that have pledged to make their textiles supply chain sustainable


The sustainable centres are run by communities themselves and offer a range of activities that focus on both addressing the climate emergency and bringing people together.

These include activities such as art exhibitions, exercise classes, sustainable living workshops, bike repair facilities and vegetarian and vegan cafes.

A handful of these centres are already operating during the pandemic after risk assessments to ensure they are Covid-secure.

Others are hoping to stage grand openings in the coming months as society opens up further.

Some of the empty stores that have either already been taken over for use as climate emergency centre or are the subject of negotiations, include a River Island, a Debenhams and a Homebase.

Matt Griffiths-Rimmer, of Hadley Property Group will be redeveloping the former Homebase store for housing and other uses.

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