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The forthcoming Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill, as outlined in the Queen’s Speech recently (10 May), referenced measures to address empty business premises but missed opportunities to remedy other obstacles facing tenants and landlords in looking to improve our high streets and town centres.

That’s the view of Shouler & Son’s commercial property professionals who, in reviewing the Bill’s proposals on the subject, as published in the Queen’s Speech, point out that the firm’s landlord clients are already being as creative as they can in avoiding empty premises.

The proposals, as they were published on 11 May, signal ‘Unlocking new powers for local authorities to bring empty premises back into use and instigate rental auctions of vacant commercial properties in town centres and on high streets.’

 Media reports in the run-up to, and following, the Queen’s Speech inferred that that the Levelling Up & Regeneration Bill will see local authorities having ‘beefed-up’ powers to force commercial rentals, as well as to enact compulsory purchase orders to take empty properties into their control.

According to Harry Baines, Head of Commercial, Shouler & Son, and an RICS registered valuer, to keep premises empty is never a deliberate tactic of landlords who will always be as flexible as possible when it comes to occupier lease lengths.

He explains, “Avoiding void periods is in the interest of commercial landlords in any economic climate.

“We are finding our landlord clients are open to pop-up options, temporary or short term occupiers in order to avoid empty premises and attendant associated ongoing costs to them.

“The proposed bill, as it was referenced in the Queen’s Speech, missed two significant opportunities to address empty business premises and the wider plight of the high street.

“A simplification of landlord and tenant law when it comes to making short term occupancy more cost effective is one.

“The second is addressing the matter of business rates once and for all.

“The current thresholds for business rates relief are, in many cases, a deterrent to many small and medium enterprises (SME) occupying premises in the first instance or scaling-up a notch to premises in which to accommodate current business growth or in planning for future expansion.

“It is to be hoped that as the proposed Levelling up & Regeneration Bill passes through its various parliamentary stages, all opportunities to promote vibrant town centres and high street will be considered.”

For more information on the commercial property market in Melton Mowbray and the surrounding East Midlands area, contact Harry Baines at Shouler & Son, email h.baines@shoulers.co.uk, tel 01664 560181.