Brokenshire calls for empty shops to be turned into community hubs

The communities secretary James Brokenshire has outlined his vision for tackling social problems linked to declining high streets – such as crime, unemployment and loneliness.

Speaking at the Locality Convention in Bristol, Mr Brokenshire launched the Government’s flagship Open Doors project, which will link landlords with vacant retail units with community groups offering vital services to young and old.

‘We need to be imaginative in tackling the social and economic challenges our communities face,’ said the communities secretary.

‘This includes seizing the enormous opportunity before us to transform our high streets into vibrant community hubs where people work, live and shop.

‘That is why I’m delighted to be launching the new Open Doors project that will see empty shops being opened up to community groups offering services to the most vulnerable in our communities,’ he added.

The communities secretary pointed to new figures showing that there are currently over 27,000 premises lying vacant in England’s town centres.

According to the Government, research also shows that higher numbers of residents on our high streets can generate higher footfall and, in turn, higher demand for shops and services.

The Communities Secretary will also launch a new Community Roadshow, which will see him and his ministerial team travelling across the country to learn from and celebrate the work being done by community groups.

The first of the Roadshow visits will see the Communities Secretary visiting a winter shelter and a community-led housing project in Bristol.

Photo by rbrwr

Jamie Hailstone
Senior reporter - NewStart


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