Assembly warns high streets are in decline

The number of empty shops in London has gone up 5% in the past two years. Photo: Yui Mok/PA

The London Assembly has warned that emergency measures are needed to help save high streets in the capital, which are suffering because of the poor economy and the increase in shoppers using out-of-town centres.

Their new report 'Open for Business' says that the number of empty shops, which has risen to 3,400, is putting off shoppers from visiting the high streets and putting other retailers at risk.

The Assembly has called on the Mayor, the Government and local councils to introduce a series of measures to improve high streets:

  • Getting shop rents renegotiated
  • Increasing tax rate relief for small businesses
  • Introducing a register of shop owners so landlords can be traced
  • Changing planning rules so councils can address the rise in the number of pawnbrokers, betting shops and payday loan shops
  • Introducing pop-up shops in empty properties
  • Improving accessibility for walkers and cyclists

Assembly member Andrew Dismore, who is Chair of the Economy Committee, said: "The Mayor, the Government and local boroughs need urgently to follow our recommendations to bring empty shops back into use, stop the rot and so help our local high streets thrive again."