07 February 2012

Councils invited to bid to become ‘Portas Pilots’

The Government is inviting councils to bid for funds to help them turn around the fortunes of ‘unloved and unused’ high streets.

The competition to become one to 12 ‘Portas Pilots’ follows last year’s Government commissioned High Street review conducted by retail expert Mary Portas. In it, she claimed town centres should be run like businesses with a much closer focus on retailers’ and shoppers’ needs.

Bidding towns, which could benefit from a share of £1M, will be expected to come up with the best High Street blueprints in a move that fulfils the first and last recommendations of Ms Portas' review.

This includes the creation of a ‘town team’, made up of the key players in their local community - such as the council, local landlords, shopkeepers and the local MP.

Areas will have to ‘demonstrate how they plan to breathe new life into their high streets and shopping parades, but not just in a staid application form’, local government minister Grant Shapps said. He would also like to see councils submit pitches to become Portas Pilots in the form of short YouTube clips.

‘Today I'm offering a golden ticket to 12 town centres across the country to become 'Portas Pilots' - areas with the vision and enthusiasm to breathe new life into what should be the beating heart of their communities, and they will get Mary's and my support as they try out the ideas in her recent review,’ Mr Shapps said.

‘I want to see how these Town Teams plan to try new things, experiment and ensure that their high streets and parades become destinations for local people want to be. But these pilots are just the start. We want to learn their lessons and help communities across the country breathe new life into their own towns. Launching this competition now is a signal of our understanding that there's no time to waste in driving forward these important measures.’

Mr Shapps will give the full Government response to the review by the Spring.

View the Portas Pilot prosectus here.

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