Derelict buildings in Manchester and Liverpool are to be handed over to artists and entrepreneurs, under a Government scheme to revitalise run-down areas of northern cities.
The Deputy Prime Minister, Nick Clegg, announced the move on a visit to Berlin, where a similar project has turned unused land and buildings into work space.
He wants pop-up shops, start-up businesses and charities to takeover vacant buildings temporarily. Councils and land-owners will be asked to match sites with potential users.
The north of England has nearly twice as many hectares of previously developed vacant land and buildings as the south. Mr Clegg is setting up a working group of councils, businesses and charities, to report back in January.
Some areas and buildings have already been identified in Manchester, including plots on King Street, Cross Street, Deansgate and Piccadilly Place.
In Liverpool, the ABC Cinema, Lyceum Post Office and The Oratory are among the sites being considered.