New initiative to fill empty retail units in Oxford

Business and organisations from across Oxford are working with the city council on an initiative to bring empty units back into use more quickly.

Representatives of more than 30 local business and organisations have been invited by Oxford City Council to put forward ideas for short term, ‘meanwhile use’ of empty units following a council-run event on the issue. The council has also written to a number of landlords and agents with city centre vacant units to ask if they’d consider ‘meanwhile use’ while work continues to get them let longer term.

It is hoped these short tenancies can act as a stepping stone, enabling groups to test out operating from a city centre location and aiming both to fill temporarily empty units and to help create opportunities for independent businesses and others in Oxford city centre.

Mary Clarkson, cabinet member for Culture and City Centre, said “We’ve been working hard with landlords to help fill vacant retail units, and we’re looking at a range of ways that we can keep our shopping areas vibrant and varied places to visit. We know that online shopping is changing the way people are using our high streets, and we’re working with landlords and businesses to help them change the way they fill the space and keep people coming back.”

While the UK High Street Index for footfall is down 2.6 per cent year on year, Oxford has seen a rise of 4.1 per cent.