CRAFTS people, artists and businessmen on the Isle of Wight have heard a talk to learn how to make better use of empty shops.
Dan Thompson, a leading expert in this field, stressed the importance of shop owners appreciating the benefits of allowing small enterprises to get themselves established in their empty premises.
These temporary enterprises are called pop-up shops.
Nationally, 15 per cent of shops in the UK are empty — the Isle of Wight vacancy rate is 13 per cent, said Mr Thompson.
In his blog, he said: "The Island’s an interesting and contradictory place.
"On one hand, it’s an untouched, Fifties-style seaside working-class holiday territory, and on the other, there are places like Cowes, where its streets are stuffed with accents of the ruling class.
"There are pockets of emptiness, like the top of Ryde, which has been cut off by an unsympathetic traffic layout."
He added: "But these isolated areas could, with a little political will, be reinvented as destinations in their own right."
The Isle of Wight Makers group, organisers of the talk at Quay Arts, took Mr Thompson on a tour of the Island’s main towns.
Sara Netherway, of the Isle of Wight Makers, said: "Anyone can use these spaces between full-time tenancies.
"Pop-up shops work well in parts of the mainland because they encourage more community involvement and the challenge is trying to start this culture here on the Island — opening up discussions with landlords and networking."
Anyone who wants to get involved, whether a landlord or people interested in being part of a project, can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org