Scottish Greens: Let artists save struggling high streets

Patrick Harvie says changes to planning policies put forward by his party could provide a boost.

Scottish Greens: Let artists save struggling high streets PA Media via PA Ready
Harvie: Let artists occupy empty spaces.

Artists should be allowed to occupy empty spaces on high streets in a bid to reinvigorate them, the Scottish Greens have said.

In the past year, Scotland’s high streets have been hit with months of closures of non-essential stores as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, while the long-term decline due to the rise of online retail had been ongoing for years.

But, speaking ahead of a visit to Dunfermline on Wednesday, Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie has said changes to planning policies put forward by his party could provide a boost.

Using “local place plans”, the Greens hope disused shops could be turned into artist-led spaces such as studios, cinemas, workshops or venues.

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He said: “Even before the pandemic hit Scotland, many high streets had far too many empty units as more and more shopping was done online.

“We need to rethink our town centres, so they become attractive places to be, and artists can play a huge role in a green recovery.

“As Covid restrictions ease and we get a chance to get together again there will be huge appetite for gigs and galleries. We need to let artists lead that.

“A green recovery means moving on from a broken economy that left whole communities behind. We can breathe new life into our town centres. Our future depends on it.”