Sunak pledges to slash empty high street shops by 2025

Commenting on the role high streets play in the UK, Sunak told party members he doesn’t ‘just want them to survive; I want them to thrive’

Rishi Sunak has pledged to slash the number of boarded up high street shops by 2025 if he wins his Tory leadership bid, by enabling local authorities to quickly seize and repurpose empty commercial buildings. 

In his latest pitch to party members, who are shortly set to receive ballots for the final leadership vote, the former chancellor said he would “slash the number of empty shops by 2025”, though his team did not reveal a specific number on how many shuttered shops he would target for reopening.

Speaking to members, Sunak said: “I understand the vital role that high streets play in local communities. I don’t just want them to survive; I want them to thrive.

“I want to slash the number of empty shops by 2025 and make sure they are turned into thriving local assets, supporting skills, local businesses, economies and creating jobs. They will be joined by vital public services – like police stations and job centres.”

He added: “We should all take pride in our high streets, so I will crack down on antisocial behaviour, graffiti, littering, through extended police powers and increased fines. I have been clear that I plan to rebuild our economy; our high streets are a crucial part of that.”

In an attempt to target antisocial behaviour across UK high streets, Sunak said he will also pledge to expand police powers in public places, and apply double fixed penalty notices for those who graffiti or drop litter in town centres.

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