Sacha Lord legal challenge heads to High Court

By James McAllister

- Last updated on GMT

Sacha Lord legal challenge heads to High Court

Related tags: Legal challenge, Restaurant, Hospitality, Coronavirus, Government

A legal challenge by Greater Manchester's night time economy advisor Sacha Lord against the restrictions placed on hospitality by the Government will be tried in the High Court.

Lord has been battling for months for the Government to publish evidence that supports the tough restrictions imposed on pubs and restaurants.

He has argued that the sector has been treated unfairly, with restrictions causing a 'disproportionate amount of harm to some of the most disadvantaged in our society'.

In an update on Twitter yesterday, he wrote: "Judge Pearce AGREES we DO have a case in the High Court.

"It is arguable that a meal with alcohol IS NOT necessary. It is also arguable that closing pubs that don't serve food discriminates sectors of our society."

The date for the trial, which is set to last two days, is pending.

It comes as Lord warned that the collapse of the UK's retail sector will create a domino effect of closures and increased socio-economic hardship for Britain's high streets, unless spaces are repurposed.

Online power players such as Boohoo have been snapping up troubled high street brands including Dorothy Perkins, Wallis and Burton in deals that do not include brick and mortar units, leaving a deluge of empty retail space on the high street that Lord suggests could be filled with food hall-style concepts.

Research by estate agent Savills suggests the UK already had 40% excess retail space pre-Covid.

“Our high streets are changing beyond all recognition and this brings severe and stark challenges,” said Lord.

“The move to online is inevitable, however as these stores close, we need to look ahead at what will replace them. The groundwork needs to start now to repurpose empty retail stores or risk the end of the high street as we know it.

“Letting high streets become saturated with boarded up premises will spark a domino effect of closures for sectors who rely on the passing trade, creating long-term socio and economic hardship for local areas. We need our urban areas to continue as places which people want to travel into, and hospitality could prove the saviour of this.”

With a month to go before the Chancellor’s Budget announcement, Lord suggests funding should be made available to convert empty premises into long term facilities such as leisure or hospitality venues.

“Department store sites are huge, stand-alone, multi-storey premises which offer huge potential,” he said.

“We need to look at how we can repurpose and convert them into food halls, art galleries and cultural attractions to encourage town centre transformation and continued local tourism.”

He points to the success and development of unused spaces such as Greater Manchester’s Escape To Freight Island, a 1,200-capacity food, drink and entertainment venue, built on the platforms of the city’s former train station.

“Food halls are enormously successful. Not only do they regenerate derelict areas, create huge economic advantages for their local areas and provide a sustainable business model for landlords, but they also create a sense of security for the retailers and outlets involved who can join together as co-operatives.”

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