Entrepreneurs take over abandoned stores and buildings

Monday, 13 October 2014
Everywhere you look on Britain’s streets there are boarded up and unused buildings. From the high street to abandoned warehouses, factories and mills, boarded-up Britain could be a thing of the past if barriers preventing young people from starting new high street businesses are removed.

A new scheme, which enables young people access to vacant units, means entrepreneurs with bright ideas are being encouraged to set up shop as part of the TestTown initiative from Carnegie UK Trust.

In a report published by accountancy firm PricewaterhouseCoopers, more than 3,000 shops closed in the UK’s 500 main shopping centres in the first six months of the year.

Eight new start-ups are testing their business ideas this week in Cambridge as part of the scheme, trailing innovative ways to raise footfall in the town centre.

“They will disrupt the local environment and try different ways of doing things,” TestTown programme leader Jim Metcalfe told The Daily Telegraph. “If we don’t try something new on the high streets, we will end up with a boarded-up Britain.”

TestTown aims to encourage councils and local authorities to encourage more entrepreneurship by offering support, retail space and relaxed planning rules to ambitious new start-ups. “They must take away the rules that prevent young people from starting businesses,” said Mr Metcalfe. More than 450 young people from across the UK pitched their business ideas in national heats to reach the Cambridge final.