Mary Portas High Street review key recommendations outlined

Retail consultant Mary Portas' High Street review includes 28 key recommendations to rejuvenate retail and remove costs and red tape.

Mary Portas at the HTA Garden Futures Conference - image: HTA
Mary Portas at the HTA Garden Futures Conference - image: HTA

They are:

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

The HTA has a mixed reaction on the Portas Review.

In particular, the HTA welcomes the recommendation to review the business rates setting process.  Existing methodology is to uplift business rates based on a single month’s Retail Price Index (September). 

This year, September’s RPI was at a 20 year high of 5.6 per cent and this huge increase will be passed on to business in April 2012, despite the rate having already fallen to 5.2 per cent and the Bank of England forecasting that it will be nearer 3 per cent by next April.

The HTA is less supportive of the town centre first approach promoted by Mary Portas:

"We recognise that the high street has an important role to play in contributing to the local economy and sense of community cohesion. 

"However, this is equally true for out of town retailers such as garden centres. As highlighted by the BRC’s recently published report "Retail in Society:  Serving our Communities", many garden centres are now considered community hubs through their voluntary work with local schools, charities and hospices. So there is a balance to be struck and we oppose a presumption in favour of town centre development, and the introduction of an "exceptional sign-off" from the Secretary of State for all new out-of-town developments."


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