Landlords of empty buildings in the city centre have to play their part to help the high street thrive, the leader of Salisbury City Council has said.

Cllr Jeremy Nettle said: “I’m extremely sad to see these empty premises but there are opportunities here for all landlords to think about what they want. There are plenty of artists who would love to display their work if landlords can sacrifice rent for a few months. If landlords seized this kind of opportunity, we’d see a thriving Salisbury and people would come from all over.”

Salisbury City Council currently owns two empty units and discussions with organisations who might move in are ongoing, Cllr Nettle said.

Plans to organise events later in the year to draw people to the city centre are also being drawn up, he said.

Andy Rhind-Tutt, President of Salisbury and District Chamber of Commerce and Industry, added: “It is possible that we could experience the most unstable and uncertain six months through a winter period since the last war and it is upon us all to do whatever we can to support local businesses and help people in our community shop, eat and drink and feel safe doing so.

“The controversial People Friendly Streets scheme will soon be in place for 18 months and is intended to help create safe space for pedestrians. But it will be very sad if we cannot put a shopping/things to do experience into the open spaces the scheme creates in the build up to Christmas and thereafter.

"Discussions have already taken place in recent council meetings and a cost neutral Christmas market as recommended was considered not feasible due to the amount of security and management of safety for all visitors. But I would support a request to and urge Wiltshire Council and the Government to provide extra help to make a safe festive experience happen in Salisbury and if support was granted, give our local independent shops free outdoor space if they need it to help them stay in business. Salisbury is a great city to live, work and visit and we need to keep working together to help keep it on its feet in these difficult times."