New Government rules could help bring Hexham high street 'back to life' as landlords could be forced to put vacant shop units on auction.

According to The Daily Mail, Parliament will be announcing new rules that will allow local authorities to force landlords to rent out the commercial property on high streets through a Compulsory Rental Auction.

It is believed that the new action will help the landlords to fill the empty shop units as it will allow local authorities to instigate an auction, inviting bids from interested parties.

Ministers are hoping this will reduce the number of boarded-up shops while creating new opportunities for local small businesses and community groups and helping increase footfall and spending in town centres.

The call for the new local authority powers was due to the fear of the number of empty shops which has 'soared since the pandemic', claims the newspaper, with many that were shuttered during lockdowns failing to get back on their feet as the shift towards online shopping accelerated.

Although nothing has been announced by the Government, it was reported that the new powers will be introduced as part of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Bill, which will be announced in the Queen’s Speech next month.

Reacting to the possible new rules, Hexham Mayor Derek Kennedy said: “It will be interesting to see the detail of the government’s bill regarding landlords being forced to rent empty units.  

"The former Beales building, which is mainly empty barring Yorkshire Trading Company, is the store that springs to mind.

"The Town Council is meeting a high street consultant in May and we will raise the potential of the new legislation to see if this will help reinvigorate the High Street. We will explore every possibility to improve Hexham.” 

Hexham Cllr Trevor Cessford adds: "No-one like empty shops standing idle and so anything that could be done to stop this should be encouraged."

A Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities spokesman said: “Revitalising our highstreets is a fundamental part of our mission to level up across the country.

“Further details on our legislative plans will be set out in due course.”