Extra powers put forward to help rent out empty city shops

Boris Johnson has set out plans to revive the high street after the damaging local election results for his party 

Boris Johnson has set out plans to revive the high street after the damaging local election results for his party - Credit: Ella Wilkinson/PA

Government plans to help revive the high street in the city following the Covid pandemic have been backed in principle by other political parties.

Prime minister Boris Johnson has outlined plans which would rid high streets of "derelict shopfronts", with councils given extra powers to force landlords to rent out empty shops.

Other measures will include the ability to make the pavement cafés which sprang up during the Covid-19 pandemic a permanent part of the landscape.

Jamie Osborn (Green), county and city councillor for the Mancroft ward, said: "We want to revive high streets.

Jamie Osborn, Green city and county councillor.

Jamie Osborn, Green city and county councillor. - Credit: Jamie Osborn

"It has been quite distressing to see shops closing in Norwich when it has usually been bucking the trend of high street decline. 

"I think it is a good idea to give councils more powers but the government needs to provide cash-strapped authorities with the resources and funds to be able to do that."

Shoppers in Gentlemans Walk , Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Shoppers in Gentlemans Walk , Norwich. Photo: Steve Adams

Mr Osborn would like to see Norwich move towards a more "European" culture of street life and café culture, but stressed this should not hinder those with disabilities who need space for access.

Most Read

The government plans to revive struggling town centres will form a key part of the Queen's Speech as Boris Johnson tries to reset his government following damaging local election results.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson during a media briefing in Downing Street, London, on coronavirus (Covi

Prime minister Boris Johnson has outlined new plans to help revive the high street after damaging local election results - Credit: PA

Steve Morphew, leader of the Labour group at Norfolk County Council - who represents the Catton Grove division of the city - believes the plan needs to be teased out in more detail. 

Mr Morphew said: "Anything that brings life back into the shops is great but at the end of the day the cost of living will make the most difference.

"Something should be done about the lack of shops but independents seems to be doing a lot better than large corporate chains at the moment.

"The power to rent them out and forcing property owners to do anything can be a bit of a nightmare with the legal ramifications." 

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Steve Morphew, Norwich. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2018

The government said compulsory rental auctions will ensure landlords make shops that have been vacant for more than a year available to prospective tenants.

Authorities will also be given greater powers to use compulsory purchase orders to deliver housing, regeneration schemes and infrastructure.