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.