High street? High five! Mary’s recommendations on the money!


Mary Portas is a ‘doer’. She has ideas, and she makes them happen. Getting her to put her brain on the regeneration of Britain’s High Streets was inspired. Her recommendations (listed below) are inspired too. But will they be translated into action? Perhaps she should do one of her ‘revisits’ in eighteen month’s time – the thought should put the fear of God into the likes of housing minister Grant (‘I can sell snow to the Eskimos’) Shapps.

Britain’s high streets are prime examples of what happens when planners and problem generating politicians don’t join up the dots. High streets have been ignored and allowed to become a problem. There has been no direction, no inspiration, no incentive to make things better and absolutely no leadership. Result? Chaos and confusion. This is an opportunity  for change.

Wait a minute though…on the very day Mary’s report hit the news stands, local councillors are already starting to mither about lost revenue from car parking. The little men with no ideas and even less clue are starting to surface. Moan, moan, moan – these are the folk who think vision comes from Specsavers. Let’s hope someone with cojones is tasked to turn these recommendations into action – a High Street Tsar maybe? C’mon Mr Shapps, surprise us!

Mary’s recommendations:

1. Put in place a “Town Team”: a visionary, strategic and strong operational management team for high streets

2. Empower successful Business Improvement Districts to take on more responsibilities and powers and become “Super-BIDs”

3. Legislate to allow landlords to become high street investors by contributing to their Business Improvement District

4. Establish a new “National Market Day” where budding shopkeepers can try their hand at operating a low-cost retail business

5. Make it easier for people to become market traders by removing unnecessary regulations so that anyone can trade on the high street unless there is a valid reason why not

6. Government should consider whether business rates can better support small businesses and independent retailers

7. Local authorities should use their new discretionary powers to give business rate concessions to new local businesses

8. Make business rates work for business by reviewing the use of the RPI with a view to changing the calculation to CPI

9. Local areas should implement free controlled parking schemes that work for their town centres and we should have a new parking league table

10. Town Teams should focus on making high streets accessible, attractive and safe

11. Government should include high street deregulation as part of their ongoing work on freeing up red tape

12. Address the restrictive aspects of the ‘Use Class’ system to make it easier to change the uses of key properties on the high street

13. Put betting shops into a separate ‘Use Class’ of their own

14. Make explicit a presumption in favour of town centre development in the wording of the National Planning Policy Framework

15. Introduce Secretary of State “exceptional sign off ” for all new out-of-town developments and require all large new developments to have an “affordable shops” quota

16. Large retailers should support and mentor local businesses and independent retailers

17. Retailers should report on their support of local high streets in their annual report

18. Encourage a contract of care between landlords and their commercial tenants by promoting the leasing code and supporting the use of lease structures other than upward only rent reviews, especially for small businesses

19. Explore further disincentives to prevent landlords from leaving units vacant

20. Banks who own empty property on the high street should either administer these assets well or be required to sell them

21. Local authorities should make more proactive use of Compulsory Purchase Order powers to encourage the redevelopment of key high street retail space

22. Empower local authorities to step in when landlords are negligent with new “Empty Shop Management Orders”

23. Introduce a public register of high street landlords

24. Run a high profile campaign to get people involved in Neighbourhood Plans

25. Promote the inclusion of the High Street in Neighbourhood Plans

26. Developers should make a financial contribution to ensure that the local community has a strong voice in the planning system

27. Support imaginative community use of empty properties through Community Right to Buy, Meanwhile Use and a new “Community Right to Try”

28. Run a number of High Street Pilots to test proof of concept

Be Sociable, Share!
Filed under: Home Tagged with

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: