Empty Shops Network founder joins new High Street team

Today marks the launch of Platform, a new programme, which aims to make town centre property more accessible to communities and businesses.

Empty Shops Network founder Dan Thompson is one of 16 people participating in the programme, brought together by community entrepreneur Rebecca Trevalyan. She is working with lead partners High Streets Task Force, Power to Change, British Property Federation, New Local, Shoosmiths and Radix. Dan is one of 16 diverse leaders representing community businesses, local government, property owners and investors from across the UK. They aim to identify and grow innovations that make town centre property and spaces more accessible to communities.

The pandemic has accelerated the decline of traditional retail as the dominant offer in our town centres and there is a growing consensus that town centres need to have a greater focus on community to better address local needs in order to thrive.

The Platform coalition aims to take advantage of the changed post-pandemic landscape as a generational opportunity to redesign how we organise the land and buildings at the heart of our neighbourhoods. Platform brings together individuals and organisations with experience of the retail/commercial property system, from community entrepreneurs and local government to a national retailer and institutional investor, to share best practice, promote innovations in property access and ownership, lead the debate on how we move beyond the ‘landlord–tenant’ relationship and make policy recommendations to relevant government departments.

The aim is not simply to be a talking shop, but to present practical interventions that make town centre property more accessible to communities, whether that’s through promoting a better understanding of different types of community entrepreneurs and property owners and their needs and motivations to providing blueprints for ‘social value leases’ or establishing local asset-owning trusts alongside the traditional retailers and hospitality occupiers that are already in many high street locations.

Dan is currently working on Newcastle Common, a two year empty shop programme in Newcastle-under-Lyme, and with Mooch on Isle of Rydesgate, part of Historic England’s Twin Towns cultural programme for High Streets. He is also working with B arts in Stoke-on-Trent, as part of their ongoing Artcity project, which focuses on creative use of former industrial buildings.

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