The Government's Response to Mary Portas' High Street Review
Here is a summary of the measures that will interest societies like ours. Members might care to consider how many of these are likely to be realistic and effective.
- The Government want to see high streets become "the beating heart of the community", offering more than just retail- with entertainment venues and leisure facilities, as well as housing and local public services.
- 100 areas will benefit from a High Street Innovation Fund focusing on bringing empty shops back into use. [Ipswich has been awarded £100,000 for this.]
- A new National Markets Day to celebrate the role markets can play, help aspiring entrepreneurs try out their business ideas and encourage more visitors to town centres.
- Recognition that free car parking can have a big impact on a town centre, so giving local areas freedom to implement controlled parking schemes that work for their town centres - and "local authorities should set appropriate parking charges that do not undermine the vitality of town centres".
- The Government would like to see hundreds of town teams- made up of key players including the council, local landlords, business owners and local MPs. Civic groups should campaign to join these teams. [Ipswich Central fulfils at least some of this role.]
- The Government have said Town Teams should actively promote good design in improving the high street, the evening and night time economy.
- The Government will run a high profile campaign to get people involved in the development of High Street Neighbourhood Plans.
- The Government say "towns should remove street clutter to make them more pleasant for visitors."
- The Government has launched 'Portas Pilots' for towns to bid for £1m. [See below]
But the Government rejected the recommendation for a clampdown on shopping centres outside towns -- what many felt was the most far-reaching proposal in the Portas Review. The Government believe the changes in the Planning Framework will manage this through Local Plans.