High street vision of the future

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Retail expert Mary Portas today published her vision to breathe economic and community life back into our high streets.

The review makes ambitious recommendations on what can be done – by Government, local authorities and business – to help revive the fortunes of high streets up and down the land, against a backdrop of rising vacancy rates.

The recommendations aim to:

  • Get town centres running like businesses: by strengthening the management of high streets through new ‘Town Teams’, developing the Business Improvement District model and encouraging new markets
  • Get the basics right to allow businesses to flourish: by looking at how the business rate system could better support small businesses and independent retailers, encouraging affordable town centre car parking and looking at further opportunities to remove red tape on the high street
  • Level the playing field: by ensuring a strong town centre first approach in planning and encouraging large retailers to show their support for high streets
  • Define landlords’ roles and responsibilities: by looking at disincentives for landlords leaving properties vacant and empowering local authorities to step in when landlords are negligent
  • Give communities a greater say: by greater inclusion of the high street in neighbourhood planning and encouraging innovative community uses of empty high street spaces.

Portas said: “I don’t want to live in a Britain that doesn’t care about community. And I believe that our high streets are a really important part of pulling people together in a way that a supermarket or shopping mall, however convenient, however entertaining and however slick, just never can.

“Our high streets can be lively, dynamic, exciting and social places that give a sense of belonging and trust to a community. Something which, as the recent riots clearly demonstrated, has been eroded and in some instances eradicated.

“I fundamentally believe that once we invest in and create social capital in the heart of our communities, the economic capital will follow.”

The report can be viewed online by clicking here.

 

2 COMMENTS

  1. These Reccomendations are too weak to act upon by any Local Community or Council and Mary Porta might need a national solution but that attitude is what reduced the local aspect and appeal of high streets over the last 50 years from Independents to National Companies. If you look at whats really happening in town centres there are simple solutions to the declining issue. My reccommedations are:

    1.0 Town Centres Identity: Give people a reason to come to town! pedestrian flows and a good marketing mix need a Local Business Approach which is not dominated by landlord and Big Players or outside consultants. Make what you have, cleaner, safer, more inviting and you need evening and later night shopping to combat youth activity and un safe.
    2.0 Have a dedicated retail Council and Business Voice which connects Business, Commerce, Retail & Land.
    3.0 Planning: Council Planning is Terrible they never seem to take a long term vision: Look at Truro with M&S and the Square. Wheres the uniqueness of a proper Quay and the Towns history. Its a real Shame.
    4.0 Remove or reduce social housing ratio on New estates and get developers and landlords to release funds and use existing Town Centre space for quality rentable accommodation, private sale and social housing.
    5.0 Urban Living – Build more within the Cities & Towns reducing need to travel and make landlords improve buildinga nd sites where action is needed.

    In short, in the late 60, the 70 and 80s shopping centres were just That Centres fo shopping! The Town & City Centre needs a Strong Council, willing participants and a long Term view. You never get that from Nationals only Independants and often the Decision makers are never around long enough to live with the Consequences!

    Just a thought!

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