Engaging with Landlords
A great town centre is not just beneficial for business owners and local communities, it's also advantageous for the owners and developers of properties within your area. The long term value of their assets are linked to the vibrancy and desirability of your local environment. So why not ask the owners and their agents to support their investments by engaging with your local partnership to improve that value?
Increasingly, property owners and their agents are taking an interest in town centre management and are happy to engage and contribute to the health of the environment that their assets are a part of. For example, increased retail vacancy rates have prompted increased flexibility about lease conditions and rents, meaning:
Making empty units available for pop up uses, sometimes free of charge
Shorter, flexible leasing arrangements and rent free periods
Working with Town Centre Managers and local authorities to attract investment
Visually enhancing vacant units with window graphics or displays to improve the look and feel of the property and surrounding area
Voluntary contributions to local partnerships supporting positive outcomes
Use of Section 106 funds to improve the town centre environment
Don't forget floors above ground level – perhaps these can be turned into residential properties, or used as workshops or small business hot desks? Bringing a proactive property agent or local landlord into your partnership is a great first step to help open metaphorical and literal doors.
Not every property owner will be open to engaging, and some you may not even be able to find, but it is well worth establishing a good database of the owners and agents in your town centre and establishing relationships.
Organisations like the British Council of Shopping Centres, British Property Federation, and British Retail Consortium can be useful sources of information, networking opportunities and trade events. Local authorities, whether leading their local partnership or contributing to it, have the tools to help uncover those hard-to-find landlords; ask them for their business rates contact address for the property in question, or ask whether they will contact the rates payer on behalf of your partnership.
There is unfortunately no quick way to find landlords that do not want to be found. It takes time, patience and perseverance.