Laura Sharman 30 March 2012

Government accepts proposals to save local high streets

Councils are moving on from the Mary Portas report and have had several proposals accepted by Government in securing the future of local high streets.

In its response to the report, the Government has accepted that local decisions need to be taken over high streets, such as tackling empty shops and introducing new Business Improvement Districts.

However, the Local Government Association has warned that the plans will only succeed with 'sustained local programmes' and developers using a 'town centre first' approach when building new shopping centres.

Peter Box, chair of the LGA's Economy and Transport Board, said: 'Councils are keen to move on from the Mary Portas report and start tackling the major issues which are affecting local high streets.

'It is pleasing that the Government response to Mary Portas will accept many of the views raised by town halls – including greater involvement from local businesses and a funding boost for areas with high numbers of empty shops.

'We now need a sustained focus on improving high streets in the years to come, particularly in light of figures from the OECD which show that more and more shoppers are using the internet instead.'

Town halls presented Government with a five point plan to revitalise local high streets including: giving councils the means to takeover empty shops; greater local control over transport and apprenticeship schemes; improved night time safety; less unnecessary red tape; and a greater role for business.

The LGA are also pressing for a new 'super' planning use class to allow councils to restrict the over-saturation of premises that don't positively contribute to the diversity and future economic growth of local high streets.

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