Bill Grimsey's second independent report on the UK's high streets has been published earlier this week. The report provides recommendations for how to revitalise the local high streets and out of the 25 key recommendations, I would highlight the following:
- a call for a new town centre commission to develop a long-term strategy for local high streets;
- accepting that there is already too much retail space in the UK, and that bricks and mortar retailing can no longer be the anchor for thriving high streets and town centres - town centres need to be repopulated and re-fashioned as community hubs that include housing, health and leisure, entertainment, education, arts, business / office space and some shops;
- accept that there is no confidence in business rates, it is accelerating shop closures in many towns and is an outdated and unfair tax that needs a major overhaul - an immediate independent review should look to replace it with either a land/area/property value or sales tax;
- create a nominal maximum charge of £1 for the first two hours of parking in town centres, while introducing 30 minutes of free parking in high streets with no paid extension option; and
- provide free public wifi and well-connected work places that support flexible working patterns and attract freelancers to high streets and town centres.
As Bill Grimsey said on launching the review: “As a nation we must give every high street and town centre the best possible chance to flourish.”
Which of the recommendations do you support and which would you challenge?
“As a nation we must give every high street and town centre the best possible chance to flourish.”