MARY Portas - Queen of Shops - yesterday unveiled a 28 point plan to breathe new life into British high streets.
The TV expert is calling for a raft of measures to rejuvenate the retail offerings of towns and cities.
She is calling for free parking; a moritorium on out-of-town retail developments; cut price business rates for shops and a new national market day for Britain.
Nationally one in seven shops is empty and in many areas there has been a proliferation of "pound" and charity shops - including in Gloucester.
Appearing on BBC Breakfast, Ms Portas said she wants people to look at shopping in a different way, and create “multi-functional social and shopping” high streets.
“Today the model of the high street is so outdated how it works, it’s working in the same way it did in the ’60s,” she said.
“Whereas that high street was always just about shopping, that shopping has shifted into new areas. We’ve got the internet, we’ve got these super out-of-town malls, we’ve got the hypermarkets, the supermarkets, and what we haven’t done, is we haven’t redefined what the high street is. We’ve let it go actually, we’ve neglected it and we’ve not had a vision.“When you think of high streets, they’re civic places, they’re not private spaces, and therefore we as customers should stop being so passive and actually be co-creators, with the councils, with the landlords, with the businesses, with the retailers.”
The 28 recommendations are set out below and you can read the full 55 page report by clicking here
What do you think of Mary's plans? Would they work in Gloucestershire and if so where? Would free parking tempt you back into town centre shopping habits or are you just content to do all your shopping online?
Have your say using the story comment facility below.
The following list is a summary of Mary's 28 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