Councils and local communities should be given more power to decide the future of their high streets, a new report has argued today.
The report, published by Centre for London, calls on the Government to rethink plans to make it easier to turn shops into homes and allow councils to request exemptions where there is a risk to the survival of a local high street.
It also wants to review the powers of local authorities to bring long-term vacant commercial properties with unknown or negligent owners back into use for community benefit.
Claire Harding, research director at Centre for London said: 'High streets are no longer just places to shop and have an important role at the centre of our communities. When retailers close, local people who use our high streets every day are best placed to decide what should happen.
'That’s why the Government needs to give local authorities and their communities more power to decide what happens to their town centres.'
The report also highlights that in London, just 10% of town centres have a strategy. It calls on local authorities to create an inclusive town centre strategy to give communities more say over their high street’s future.
Vidhya Alakeson, CEO of Power to Change and High Street Task Force board member, added: 'Their call for genuine partnership among all town stakeholders is especially important. For too long, communities haven’t had the power to set the direction for their high streets. New decision-making power for communities, alongside access to high street spaces, are vital next steps.'