Empty city centre units owned by Chichester District Council will soon be made available to use as pop-up shops.
A pop-up shop is run on a short-term lease and allows small firms and organisations to test the water and work out if there is a call for what they have to offer.
At a meeting on Tuesday (September 3), members of the cabinet agreed that officers could work out terms for such a scheme, starting with an empty shop in Crane Street.
The council bought ten shops in the street in 2015 which, the meeting was told, have seen a higher turnover of occupiers in recent years and take longer to let.
Leader Eileen Lintill said each empty shop cost the council an average of £9,600 per year, adding that they also had a ‘negative impact’ on the area.
A report to the cabinet said the pop-up tenants would be charged ‘no less than £200 per month’ for their licence.
While this would not bring in any extra money, it would reduce the cost to the council of the shops standing empty, while also bringing more people to the area.
Mrs Lintill said: “The current challenges being faced by the high street have been well documented, with a fast-changing economic climate, new customer demands and retailers reviewing their bricks and mortar holdings.
“While these factors are outside of this council’s control, officers are exploring ways in which the council is able to deliver initiatives designed to bring something different to the high street, to attract both new occupiers and additional footfall.”
Should the trial run prove successful, the scheme could be expanded to other empty properties owned by the council.
Susan Taylor, cabinet member for planning services, said: “I really welcome this initiative. We are all too well aware of the challenges facing the high street. This is an opportunity for some innovative enterprises to be set up.
“Who knows, if a pop-up shop is successful it could become a more permanent fixture.”
Martyn Bell, the new cabinet member for growth, place and regeneration, said the pop-up shops should be ‘appropriate’ and should not undermine existing traders.
He added: “I hope we’re not just going to see more coffee shops and bars.”