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Grimsey: 25 ways to save the high street

Retail veteran Bill Grimsey has outlined 25 recommendations to reshape and save Britain’s town centres in his second review into the UK’s high streets

  1. Establish leadership through the local authority for each town centre with a defined remit to build a 20-year strategy for their area.
  2. Create a national independent organisation, similar to Scotland’s Towns Partnership, to capture and share best practice from towns online.
  3. Accept there is already too much retail space in the UK. Town centres need to be repopulated as community hubs that include housing, health and leisure, entertainment, education, arts and office space.
  4. Embed libraries and public spaces at the heart of each community.
  5. Establish common key performance indicators to measure the economic and public health of each town.
  6. Set up a national urban data knowledge portal to support the implementation of data platforms for high streets.
  7. Local authorities should establish events teams to manage a programme of activities that drive footfall to local high streets.
  8. An immediate independent review on business rates is needed. It should look to replace them with either a land/area/ property value or sales tax.
  9. Give local authorities powers to introduce penalties and incentives for landlords of commercial properties that are left empty for more than six to 12 months.
  10. Establish a landlord register for each town to trace the owner of every property and engage them in the wellbeing of the place.
  11. Enable the change of use process through new legislation to allow sub-high streets to convert into residential areas and vice versa.
  12. Connect planning applications to the business plan for each town.
  13. Give local authorities ultimate power in granting planning permission in line with the town plan.
  14. Give local authorities powers to introduce incentives and penalties to prevent property owners and developers “land banking” for future speculative developments.
  15. Local authorities should appoint design teams to create and enhance spaces for civic and social use.
  16. Create a flexible planning framework to unlock the potential of areas by encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
  17. Review the compulsory purchase order (CPO) regime to make them more straightforward for local authorities to enforce.
  18. Review and amend the planning use class system legislation to enable greater flexibility.
  19. Create a maximum charge (£1) for the first two hours of parking in town centres, while introducing 30 minutes’ free parking in high streets.
  20. Review and evaluate future use and relevance of out-of-town shopping parks.
  21. Local section 106 income or any planning gains should be used to support the delivery of the town plan.
  22. Establish a review of the business improvement districts (BIDs) regime. Consider replacing them with community improvement districts (CIDs).
  23. BT and Virgin Media, the main beneficiaries of SuperConnected Cities £150m funding between 2014 and 2016, need to offer a town digital package to ensure ongoing digital transformation.
  24. Install LED lights in street lamps to improve the quality of light on the street, while minimising costs.
  25. Provide free public wi-fi.

Readers' comments (2)

  • My 3 point plan which no one had to commission me or pay me for;
    1 ) Totally free parking in town centres and high streets-so they match out of town retail
    2 ) Landlords to get their heads out of the clouds by offering realistic and flexible rents ( which would also help so many CVAs happening )
    3 ) A level playing field for all types of retailers

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  • Too little, too late. But just in time for Amazon to roll out their physical estate when the above is finally done.

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