The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has launched a free small business retail lease in a bid to attract independent businesses back on to the UK’s high streets.

In partnership with the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), the Small Business Retail Lease has been developed to simplify complex and time-consuming procedures associated with commercial properties and give the opportunity to independents to fill vacant high street space.

The lease has been authored by Nick Darby of the SNR Denton UK LLP Charitable Trust.

Tom Ironside, director of business and regulation at the BRC, said: “The template lease will help the successful retailers of tomorrow take up their places in town centres across the country.

“The high street is a much-loved institution but it can be a tough place to trade, with property costs a significant challenge for all. Negotiating the complicated and costly process of getting the first lease for a shop is a sizeable hurdle which our lease removes.

“Shockingly, more than 11% of town centre properties are currently standing vacant. As well as assisting individual retailers, this new lease will make it quicker and easier to get those empty units back into use, preventing them acting as a drag on the performance of an entire area.”

Paul Bagust, associate director, professional groups and forums, RICS, said: "In simplifying the leasing process for landlords and small business tenants, we hope to support small to medium-sized enterprises and provide a boost to the British high street in a time of decline – thereby contributing to overall UK economic productivity.

“Moreover, by offering mutually beneficial terms to landlords and tenants in a flexible lease, we are directly addressing the principles of the Code for Leasing Business Premises – identified in the Portas Review as a key tool in tackling the high street’s decline.”

To find out more about the BRC and RICS’ free lease, visit