Could a Scottish proposal help our High Streets?

With an average of 14.6 per cent of shops unfortunately stood empty across Britain – according to research from the Local Data Company – commercial property agent Prop-Search is eagerly awaiting the outcome of a new initiative being proposed in Scotland, aimed at revitalising its ailing High Streets.

Businesses that move into long-term unoccupied shops will be able to apply for discounted business rates under proposals put forward to the Scottish Government. The ‘Fresh Start’ scheme aims to support landlords and business start-ups by offering a 50 per cent discount for those moving into premises that have been unoccupied for more than 12 months.

The proposal to rejuvenate Scotland’s High Street has been put forward by local Government minister Derek Mackay as part of the Unoccupied Properties bill currently before Parliament.

Peter Sullivan, a Retail Consultant at Prop-Search, says: “We will be keeping a keen eye on this scheme to see if it will encourage people to set up shop, open new premises and start new businesses in unoccupied retail premises. “

He adds: “It is hoped that if this initiative was to be adopted in England, that it would give start-up companies the chance to utilise properties that were previously beyond their means.”

The British Property Federation has already expressed its concern over the recent levels of High Street occupancy and said that there was a need to rethink on the redevelopment of vacant property. This would require the property industry, including investors, to accept new lower value options for properties, the alternative being a steady, inexorable and irreversible decline.