On Friday 30 March the Government published its long awaited response to the Portas Review (Engand only).
This response tells us two things:
- The Government’s official position on each of the recommendations in the Portas Review;
- The immediate action the Government will be taking.
This action is being taken in consultation with the new National Town Team, which was formed recently by around 10 national bodies, and is chaired by Martin Blackwell, Chief Executive, The Association of Town Centre Management.
Summary of Government Action
The Government has committed itself to four actions as a direct consequence of the Review:
- The Expansion of the Town Team Pilots - in response to overwhelming interest and demand, the Government will fund a further 12 pilots, as well as workshops and toolkits so other towns can learn from their experiences;
- A £500,000 investment - to help Business Improvement Districts access loans for their set-up costs;
- A High Street Innovation Fund - £10million to councils in areas blighted by empty shops and recovering from the riots to help bring entrepreneurs back to their communities. This will give £100,000 to the top 100 locations in England with the highest No Domestic vacancy rates, and
- A £1m Future High Street X-Fund – this will reward the areas delivering the most effective and innovative plans to bring their town centres back to life
Furthermore, the Government has announced other actions it is taking which compliment the recommendations of the Portas Review. This includes:
- Support for the Love your Local Market campaign;
- Doubling the level of small business rate relief in England for two and a half years;
- Consulting on proposals to abolish the centrally-set minimum parking penalty charge, giving councils the flexibility to levy parking penalty notices at a lower rate if they choose;
- Putting in place a streamlined process to revoke out-of-date, unnecessary byelaws that hinder efforts to get new markets and businesses up and running;
- Allowing the conversion of space above shops to two flats, without the need for planning permission, rather than the current limit of one – encouraging more people to live in their town centres and maintain them as vibrant places to be; and
- Providing up to £306,000 match funding for an Enterprise Business Connectors mentoring scheme, run by Business in the Community, to support those looking to run their own business.
The HTF recently held a popular and lively event on Retail, the High Street Review and the revivification of historic cores at Bircham Dyson Bell on 23 March, in which issues examined in detail included the Portas Review, retail issues experienced by high streets in historic towns, parking, infrastructure, retail-led regeneration and the particular advantages and problems posed by this in our historic town centres. Speakers included the Association of Town Centre Management, English Heritage, UrbanPlus Design Ltd, the British Parking Association, the Local Government Association, Department of Communities and Local Government, CgMs, BDB, John Lewis and leading figures from within the retail industry.
View the seminar presentations