// Gov’t launches new High Street Strategy giving councils power to take over derelict buildings to regenerate town centres
// It forms part of PM Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda, which will aim to “deliver visible changes” across England
// It was launched in response to the wave of permanent store closures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic
The UK Government has launched a new High Street Strategy that would entail councils being given extra power to take over derelict buildings to help regenerate town centres.
The strategy was announced yesterday as part of Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s levelling-up agenda, which will aim to “deliver visible changes” to local areas and communities across England by way of transforming derelict buildings, cleaning up streets, and “supporting a renewed sense of community for current and future generations”.
The strategy was also launched in response to the wave of permanent store closures brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic, and to help areas adapt to changes in people’s shopping habits due to the growth of online shopping – another change that was accelerated during the pandemic.
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As part of the strategy, local authorities will be given the power to transform towns, taking over derelict buildings through compulsory purchase orders so they can be converted into new homes if property owners stall on regeneration plans.
Councils will also be encouraged to use existing powers to convert empty offices into housing, while empty shops could be converted to entertainment venues.
“As we build back better from the pandemic, we are transforming our high streets across the UK into the kind of vibrant places we will want to visit, work and call home for generations to come,” communities secretary Robert Jenrick said.
“This strategy sets out a vision for entrepreneurship to thrive, where local shops and businesses are supported with permanent al fresco dining, derelict eyesores transformed into quality homes and new hubs for business and entertainment encouraged.
“With more funding for town centres and powers for communities to take a stake in their local area, we are delivering on our commitments to level up and put power in the hands of local people.”
Other elements in the high street strategy include £2 million to clean up graffiti, greater use of “mini-Holland” schemes to encourage cycling – paid for out of a previously announced £2 billion fund – and extra flexibility for hospitality venues to operate “al fresco”.
In an attempt to boost the nation’s morale after the devastating social and economic impact of the pandemic, the government also wants to encourage celebrations to mark the the Queen’s jubilee.
A four-day bank holiday weekend has already been announced for June 2022 to mark the Queen’s 70-year reign.
The government said it would work to make it easier to host street parties and picnics, while councils will be encouraged to make their civic locations available for events.
with PA Wires