Over the course of the recent economic downturn, many commentators have pointed to factors such as inflexible landlords, upwards-only rent reviews and high business rates as all having an impact on high street vacancy rates.
I would suggest that most landlords have become more flexible over the past few years, dropping rents and offering shorter leases.
Additionally, many councils are supporting town centre businesses by putting services such as libraries and clinics back in the centre.
Landlord investors that target ‘secondary’ areas with high yields often speak to councils before they invest and, if they are not flexible on encouraging inward investment with favourable planning or council help, then they do not invest.
It seems some councils are addressing the downturn in town centres, recognising the important position they occupy in local areas.
At a national level, the Government does need to look at the practices of some retailers whose location and behaviours seem to be driven by tax efficiency.
High street occupants are having a difficult enough time competing with internet retailers without also having to battle a tax system that is failing them.
- Geoffrey Harrington, Associate at property law firm, Thomas Eggar