Empty shops to turn to vibrant community hubs

Towns across the country will benefit from a new scheme which will see landlords turn their empty shops into vibrant community hubs open to the public.

Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has announced that the Open Doors project, run in partnership with the Meanwhile Foundation, will help community groups transform their town centres by renovating unused retail units and making them fit for purpose.

As such, the government will work to match public and private landlords with community groups offering vital services from well-being classes to business support sessions and mentoring for social enterprises. It is hoped that the partnership will help tackle social problems linked to declining high streets such as crime, unemployment and loneliness.

The confirmed locations that will be part of the scheme are Stoke-on-Trent, Bradford, Rochford, Kettering and Slough.

Brokenshire said: “Our high streets are the beating heart of the places we call home and make a real difference to the well-being of our communities. This pilot is a great way to tackle some of the challenges faced by landlords and communities. It will support groups across the country and demonstrate the potential ‘meanwhile use’ of unused spaces.”

High Streets Minister Jake Berry added: “The Open Doors Scheme encourages us to be more creative when tackling the social and economic challenges faced by our communities. This pilot is just a glimpse of what we can do to revamp vacant properties on our high streets, boost more community hubs and create more spaces for people to work, live and shop.”