A SOUTHEND business woman is helping steer a national initiative which aims to push "a high street revival".

Emily Vermont of Indirock in Victoria Plaza hopes local retailers and landlords will become involved in the country-wide plan.

The initiative has so far been published in a public paper titled A Platform For Places, launched by a coalition of UK retailers, landlords, local authorities and more with Radix think tank.

It aims to "encourage partnerships between businesses, landlords and local and national government to drive positive change in town centres".

It includes proposals to create a High Street Buyout Fund and give local social enterprises practical support to identify "new uses for empty high street buildings and bring businesses back to failing high streets".

A dedicated website and forum is due to go live by the end of the summer, which will allow local communities to get involved, get resources and form partnerships.

A Platform For Places can be viewed via radixuk.org

Mrs Vermont explained: "I hope locals will be proud Southend has been invited to become part of the national conversation through me being invited on board the initiative.

"The initiative is being led by a few different groups. These include Power To Change (a charitable Trust which supports community businesses) and the Goverment High Street Task Force (which provides support to local leaders in town centres and high streets in England).

"Lots of different people were invited to be part of the board - a wide range of people. I heard about the programme two years ago and applied to be part of it.

"I feel our business Indirock [a bouldering wall and coffee shop] is a good example of a brave new use of an empty retail unit, made possible through collaboration with Southend City Council.

"A few different councils are part of the initiative. Southend Council is not on there, but I feel Southend Council was so helpful to us when we were starting our business, and I would like them to be part of the conversation.

"We are trying to push for changes at central government, which will make things easier, such as making it easier for people to take properties which are left empty.

"We would like to push a register of landlords - especially so we can track down landlords overseas - so people can easily take over properties that are left empty.

"Some properties are left empty for years and it is because people don't know who to approach.

"It would be good to put Southend on the map."

Emily also formed a local based collective - Thrive Collective - with Rachel Kruyer of Hugo’s Pantry, situated inside the Indirock premises.

She said it was born out of a need for local business people to connect and support each other and has since been meeting up.

"We are stronger together" said Emily. "There is will from the council to help, if we connect in the right way.

"These forums are about pulling communities together and being part of the discussion to make improvements instead of just feeling alone and complaining but doing nothing."