A trial is being held which will see landlords turn their empty shops into community hubs open to the public.

The idea is a community group would be able to have 'short-term use' of an empty building until it could go back to commercial use.

Five towns across the Uk will take part in the pilot scheme.

The Open Doors project in partnership with the Meanwhile Foundation, will help community groups transform their town centres by renovating unused retail units and making them fit for purpose.

The government will work to match public and private landlords with community groups offering vital services from well-being classes to business support sessions and mentoring for social enterprises.

The partnership will help tackle social problems linked to declining high streets such as crime, unemployment and loneliness.

Communities Secretary Rt Hon James Brokenshire MP said: "Our high streets are the beating heart of the places we call home and make a real difference to the wellbeing of our communities.

"This pilot is a great way to tackle some of the challenges faced by landlords and communities. It will support groups across the country and demonstrate the potential ‘meanwhile use’ of unused spaces."

High Streets Minister Jake Berry MP added: "The Open Doors Scheme encourages us to be more creative when tackling the social and economic challenges faced by our communities.

"This pilot is just a glimpse of what we can do to revamp vacant properties on our high streets, boost more community hubs and create more spaces for people to work, live and shop."

The towns taking part are Stoke-on-Trent, Bradford, Rochford, Kettering and Slough.