A Labour Government would give councils the power to reopen abandoned shops to ‘revive Britain’s struggling high streets,’ the party has said.
Visiting a high street in Bolton on Saturday, opposition leader Jeremy Corbyn said that councils would be able to turn the 'blight of empty shops into the heart of the high street’ by giving them over to start-ups, co-operative businesses and community projects.
Labour said its plans, which would apply to property left vacant for one year, would bring back into use some of the estimated 29,000 physical retail units that have been abandoned for more than 12 months.
Shadow local government secretary, Andrew Gwynne, said: ‘Under this Government, our high streets have suffered a retail apocalypse.
'High street closures are at a historic high, leaving too many of our once-thriving towns abandoned and awash with boarded up shop fronts.
'Labour’s radical plan will turn around the mess that the Tories have created and will give local authorities the power to make our high streets the pride of our communities that they once were.’
High streets minister Jake Berry said: 'This Government is determined to tackle the challenges facing our high streets, and that’s why we’ve slashed business rates by a third for small retailers and are investing £1bn to support high streets through our Future High Streets Fund.
'Through our Open Doors scheme we’re also helping to diversify high streets by revamping vacant properties, providing free spaces for community groups in town centres across England.'