A Wiltshire shopping centre is offering budding retailers the chance to lease a shop rent free in a bid to combat rising vacancy rates.

According to the Financial Times, Borough Parade shopping centre in Chippenham, which is owned by Mountgrange, is launching a competition offering two units free for six months to first time independent retailers.

The shopping centre has also pledged to pay business rates and service charges for the retailers for the first two months.

Reviving the high street has become a big issue over the past year as retailers have seen drops in footfall with shoppers reining in spending as well as choosing to go online.

The Government last month responded to the Portas Review of the high street, taking on the majority of the 28 recommendations.

Borough Parade has five vacant units out of a total of 28.

Mountgrange asset management director Dominic Moore welcomed Portas’ proposals and believes they will encourage entrepreneurs.

“We are providing an opportunity for local businesses to grow,” he said.