ACS (the Association of Convenience Stores) is issuing a rallying call to MPs to stop the ongoing crisis on UK high streets and secure the future of local shops. The call comes as new figures show a stark increase in vacancy rates in high streets across the country.
The total number of empty shops in centres has more than doubled since the end of 2008. Vacancies in centres across the country has reached 26,000 meaning that across the country an average of one in seven high street shops are empty.
ACS is supporting amendments to the Localism Bill to be debated by Parliament this week that would put a new legal duty on councils to promote the high street. In particular the new law would require councils to resist harmful out of town retail development and put in place management plans to promote sustainability and diversity.
ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “We need a change in the law and by amending the Localism Bill MPs have a chance to show their constituencies that they care about the high streets at the heart of their communities. This new law would be a positive step toward ensuring the diverse vital and vibrant shopping is a visible sign of the economic recovery.
“Without these clauses, communities could be left at the mercy of the big developers who could use the crisis as a way of forcing through plans for big out of town stores which would have a devastating effect on the long term prospects for our high streets.
“We have already gained significant support from all sides of the house on this issue in the earlier stages of the Bill. These latest figures show that MPs must act fast and do the right thing for their constituencies.”