New model for Britain's high streets
A new Town Centre Investment Zones report, published in January 2016, has proposed a radical new model to drive investment back into Britain’s high streets.
Published by a group of property industry experts, the report focuses on how areas could be transformed by asset management of the high street, unlocking investment for local authorities and communities.
Town Centre Investment Management (TCIM) involves the pooling of a critical mass of property assets into an investment vehicle. This may bring about high street rejuvenation by allowing the assets to be managed and curated.
Carried out by Peter Brett Associates with Bond Dickinson and Citi Centric, the report identifies that fragmented ownership and poor asset management are overriding factors in the high street’s inability to adapt to change. Three town centres – Melton Mowbray, Weston-Super-Mare and Dartford – were used as pilot studies to show that by taking a more structured approach to a high street’s offering, investment can be attracted and fundamental change can be achieved.
The opportunities the TCIM model presents in terms of delivering scale and growth potential are attractive to investors. The model also allows the existing stock to adapt to the high street’s ongoing challenges such as consumer behaviour and demand changes. Local authorities are able to transform and future-proof high streets, managing the demands of consumers with more housing and leisure space.
The main recommendations of the report are:
- Areas designated for the asset management treatment should be set up as Town Centre Investment Zones (TCIZs).
- Further financial support should be provided by Government to examine the funding options for pilot studies.
- The Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) should endorse and promote TCIM as a workable solution for reforming town centres.
- DCLG together with private sector support should encourage the establishment of a Town Centre Investment Fund.
Liz Peace, chairman of the Fragmented Ownership Group, said: “Many town centres are currently focused on an outmoded retail that needs substantial structural change. Resurrecting their fortunes will not be achieved simply by the superficial and largely cosmetic measures that have so far been applied. This new and more fundamental approach, using proper asset management techniques, offers us the best and maybe the only, hope of making lasting and beneficial change.”
Cllr Pam Posnett, Deputy Leader Melton Borough Council, added: “The Council alongside our partners have a high priority and ambition to promote a vibrant town centre and deliver a plan for growth that creates a resilient local economy. This pilot has helped us move towards developing that longer term view we need, it promotes a mix of uses including retail, housing, leisure and cultural experience with a vision for development that is unique to the desires and wishes of our town centre communities.”
John Parmiter, consultant at Peter Brett Associates, said: “This is a very significant step on a journey towards real structural change in our city and town centres. Since the launch of our Thought Leadership initiative we have been very encouraged by the support for the TCIM approach from the investors, local authorities and other stakeholders that we have engaged with.”
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