NOT only is it last orders for many rural pubs, like those former East Riding hostelries where plans to convert the premises into houses are dividing opinion, but it’s the same on all those High Streets across the region now blighted by the depressing sight of empty, and boarded up, shop units as stores close and banks continue to scale back their physical presence.
National institutions are not immune, even though House of Fraser has been saved for now.
Yet, given empty buildings are, in fact, symbols of decline as the financial viability of many locations comes under threat due to the ‘triple whammy’ of business rates, rising costs and online shopping, what should happen to these eyesores?
At present, planning rules are so complicated it is easier – and cheaper – for landlords to just let them rot. This is perverse. Where’s the political imagination, and incentives, to find practical uses for such buildings before they, and adjoining areas, decline still further?