Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn has announced the Party’s radical plan to revive the struggling UK high street by enabling councils to reopen abandoned shops by giving them to start-ups, community projects and co-operative businesses.
The announcement was made during a visit to a high street in Bolton and will be applied to properties left vacant for 12 months.
It is estimated that the UK hosts around 29,000 physical retail units, which have been abandoned for more than 12 months. Labour said this plan adds to its five-point UK high street rescue plan, which includes a register for landlords of vacant properties.
Corbyn said: “Boarded up shops are a symptom of economic decay under the Conservatives and a sorry symbol of the malign neglect so many communities have suffered. Once thriving high streets are becoming ghost streets.
“Labour has a radical plan to revive Britain’s struggling high streets by turning the blight of empty shops into the heart of the high street, with thousands of new businesses and projects getting the chance to fulfil their potential.”
Shadow secretary of state for communities and local government Andrew Gwynne said: “Under this government, our high streets have suffered a retail apocalypse. High street closures are at a historic high, leaving too many of our once-thriving towns abandoned and awash with boarded-up shop fronts.
“Labour’s radical plan will turn around the mess that the Tories have created and will give local authorities the power to make our high streets the pride of our communities that they once were.”
Opposing this move, minister of state for the northern powerhouse and local growth Jake Berry said: “Jeremy Corbyn would wreck the economy, tax small businesses and scare off the investment needed to help our high streets, meaning more boarded-up shops and fewer jobs.
“We will deliver Brexit by October 31 so that we can get on with levelling up opportunities across our country and breathe new life into high streets and town centres.”
The news follows an announcement made earlier this year that the UK’s historic high streets are to benefit from a £62m government investment to regenerate heritage buildings into modern offices, housing and creative spaces.