Last edited 26 Apr 2021

High street (planning and policy)


[edit] Introduction

High streets and town centres are facing challenges from the expansion of online shopping and the development of out-of-town retail centres.

In 2011, Mary Portas undertook an independent review of high streets and presented her vision for the future in The Portas Review: an independent review into the future of our high streets.

In it, she wrote; ‘With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years and total consumer spend away from our high streets now over 50%, the need to take action has never been clearer. Although some high streets are thriving, most have a fight on their hands. Many are sickly, others are on the critical list and some are now dead. We cannot and should not attempt to save every high street but my findings have led me to believe that unless urgent action is taken, the casualties will only continue to multiply.’

Building the proposals Portas put forward, the Department for the Communities and Local Government (DCLG) devised a range of measures to help the high street (ref. 2010 to 2015 government policy: high streets and town centres).

They suggested that ‘our high streets and town centres are facing serious challenges from out-of-town shopping centres and the growth of online and mobile retailing. Our high streets need to be social places with a vibrant evening economy and to offer something that neither shopping centres nor the internet can match.’

Some of the policies that have been put in place are summarised below.

[edit] Planning policy

There have been significant improvements in planning for the high street:

[edit] Other policies

The government has introduced a range of policy changes to help support local high streets, some of which are summarised below.

[edit] Financial support

In 2013, a billion pound package was announced to help support the high street. One of the main aims was to create more jobs by supporting British businesses. Some of the measures outlined in the support package enable shops to develop, expand and take on more employees.

[edit] Business rates

In April 2014, amendments were made to business rates which included:

  • A £1,000 discount between 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016 for retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000, including shops, pubs, cafes, and restaurants.
  • A cap on the Retail Price Index (RPI) increase in bills to 2% in 2014 to 2015.
  • Extending the doubling of the Small Business Rates Relief to April 2015.
  • A reoccupation relief for 18 months with a 50% discount for new occupants of retail premises that have been empty for at least a year.
  • Providing businesses with the option to pay their bills over 12 months (rather than 10), in order to help their cashflow.

[edit] Parking

Parking restrictions have been identified as potentially harming local high streets and shops and so a range of measures have been introduced to help alleviate the problem, including allowing local businesses to request parking reviews in their area.

[edit] Local leadership

Support for local communities through community-led renewal and Business Improvement Districts.

[edit] Local markets

Support for new market traders starting up businesses and better promotion of local markets.

[edit] Future High Streets Forum

The national Future High Street Forum provides advice to the government on the challenges that the high street is facing and assists in the development of policies to allow town centres to develop.

The Great British High Street website aims to provide additional information for anyone wanting to improve their high street or town centre.

[edit] 2021

In March 2021, Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick announces package of measures to revitalise England’s high streets and town centres, with new rules coming into force allowing commercial premises to be converted into homes. Other measures included a fast track for extending public service buildings and policy changes allowing bigger extensions to existing public buildings including schools, colleges, universities and hospitals.


[edit] Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki.

[edit] External references

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