Mary Portas High Street Review

This is interesting reading for town centre retailers. Mary Portas had been commissioned by the UK Government to put forward proposals for the preservation of the town centres.

The following list is a summary of her 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