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The changing face of the high street in the post-pandemic world

Property / 08 September 2021

Many high streets were already struggling to retain retailers in a pre-COVID world. The pandemic exacerbated this further with enforced closures and a significantly reduced footfall of shoppers. Many landlords and/or tenants are making difficult decisions about the future of their premises.

Whilst changes to commercial rent recovery are no doubt high on the Government’s agenda, there will still undoubtedly be many landlords and tenants left in uncertain situations. It is still also unclear when such legislation will be passed. Last week, a Poundstretcher store in Wrexham announced the closure of one of its stores after being served notice by its landlord to vacate, despite ‘attempting to agree on new terms for many months’.  We note that several other businesses have also received notice to vacate because they have been unable to negotiate better rental terms.  We help landlords and tenants faced with these difficulties.

The high street is also likely to change in other ways following recent announcements:

Changes to planning rules

Over the last few weeks, the Housing Secretary, Robert Jenrick MP, has announced several changes to planning rules, including:

—  New rules which came into force at the start of August 2021 making it easier for commercial buildings to be converted into residential homes without having to go through lengthy planning application processes first. It is hoped that the new rules will help support the creation of much-needed homes while revitalising England’s cherished high streets and town centres.

—  A public consultation announced on 5 September 2021 to make the current outdoor measures for high streets more permanent to give businesses and councils a lifeline to operate alongside the right to regenerate and new licensing arrangements. These proposals include continued rights for markets to be held by or on behalf of local councils and the right for moveable structures on the grounds of pubs, cafes, restaurants and historic visitor attractions.

Changes in consumer-activity

Whether this is viewed as a positive or negative, permanent changes in the high street in the post-pandemic world are inevitable. People are still buying though, as reports continue to show an upwards trend in online sales. As a result, several retailers are having to expand their warehousing capabilities as a result. Many new “super sheds” (large scale warehouses) have been built across the UK in the last few months.  This has also created major investment opportunities, particularly for overseas investors.

Our highly experienced Real Estate and Property Disputes teams are on hand to help with all your commercial property needs, from negotiating and drafting leases to serving notices and/or handling property disputes. Please get in touch.


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This update is for general purposes and guidance only and does not constitute legal or professional advice. You should seek legal advice before relying on its content. This update relates to the prevailing circumstances at the date of its original publication and may not have been updated to reflect subsequent developments. If you have general queries about our updates, please email:

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