Thursday, 5 January 2012

Breathing old life back into the new British high street

Post the seasonal spending spree I was asked by my daughter to help her find an interesting newspaper report for her holiday homework. After some debate on the quality of articles offered by the Daily Mail, deemed all murder and nasties, to the Telegraph apparently a lot better but with too few pictures, we fell upon an article commenting on the downfall of La Senza (thought inappropriate here) and Hawkins Bazaar. This novelty shop is frequently visited by my trio as somewhere pocket money sized and vaguely interesting as we march the length and breadth of the UK’s High Streets. How was this interesting I asked, “it makes recession important to me and it’s just sad” said my eleven year old.

Fast forward and I find myself reading the Portas Review on the Future of High Streets published in December, a timely anecdote to the Christmas rush. My local market town offers a failing high street which only ever seems to appear in the local press for the Christmas lights switch on (courtesy of the Rotary Club) or, more relevant the rest of the year, shop owners lamenting the loss of the great British public parading at their doors. Some years ago I decided to escape retail myself; prompted following the stark reality that a supermarket giant had started selling my niche products as part of their “finest” range. Partly because of this I frequently find myself mournful for the loss of high street individuality so feel compelled to bring this report to your attention.

To see my full comment please link The Wandering Marketer alternatively the full review can be found at this address or there's a snapshot of the recommendations below:

Nicky Matthews - Communications Officer

As I conclude I find that the Government has been accused of “staggering complacency” by not releasing its formal response to Mary Portas’s review of the high street until the spring by the national media.

Summary of recommendations from the Portas Review

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

Posted by NICKY MATTHEWS. Posted In : Thoughts in my humble opinion