Posted by Zoe Boddy-McEwen

Posted 11 September, 2012 OBI BLOG

With one in six high street shops now lying empty, “pop-up” shops are becoming more and more prevalent helping landlords and tenants to bring more life to empty units and outdoor spaces. A pop-up retail space is a venue that is temporary: “popping up” one day and then disappearing the next (or several weeks/months later). This form of retailing allows a company to create a unique environment that engages their customer, bringing interest to an area and offering a low-risk solution to start-up companies.

Red tape has, however, often been a cause for concern and prevented retailers from opening. In a surprisingly useful step, the Government has announced proposals to cut back the red tape and make it easier for pop up shops to be opened.

Existing planning regulations will be relaxed allowing landlords to temporarily change the use of an empty shop for two years without the need for planning permission and the associated costs and delays from the same.

The deregulation should encourage start-up businesses and along with the government commitment to provide £80million worth of start-up loans to young entrepreneurs, with the hope of creating 30,000 new businesses, hopefully this is a step in the right direction. Some argue, however, that this new legislation does not go far enough and highlight elevated business rates and costs as a further deterrent to new and existing retailers. (Business Rates to be discussed further in next month’s OBI blog).

Pop-up shops are not just limited to start-up companies though. Samsung and Apple have recently turned to these forms of units to sell in places such as Spitalfields Market, Hyde Park and the Olympic Park. Other similar venues have been making the most of the Manchester sunshine and bars such as the Yacht Club in Spinningfields have been able to thrive during the UK summertime!

In our opinion this proposal is a welcome change to the planning system. It is, however, vital that Local Authorities retain control of the proposed temporary use; under the proposals they will validate and monitor the temporary use. This is obviously key to the success of the proposals and would be necessary and fundamental to ensuring an appropriate level of competition in the local area, providing a strong, vibrant retail mix within town centres.

The Government’s consultation, which runs until 11 September 2012, can be found at: http://www.communities.gov.uk/publications/planningandbuilding/reusebuildingsconsultation