A new approach to helping town centres adapt to changing times has spawned a new body, The Future High Streets Forum which brings together civic and business leaders across retail, property and hospitality sectors.
They Forum includes the Post Office, Alliance Boots, John Lewis, Costa, the British Independent Retailers Association, the Association of Town and City Centre Managers, the Association of Convenience Stores and the British Property Federation.
Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk co-chaired the first meeting of the forum with Alex Gourlay of Alliance Boots where they discussed next steps for the high street renewal.
Mark Prisk said that the forum builds on the foundations of Portas Review of High Streets.
As part of this, the minister published a short summary of high street progress to date, including:
- the creation of 330 Town Teams and 27 Portas Pilots which are working hard to reinvigorate their local high street - this includes Market Rasen, which has opened 2 community shops, run an arts exhibition to attract visitors and reinvigorated the local market; the market recently won a prestigious award to recognise pioneering local entrepreneurship
- the launch of the Love Your Local market campaign with over 400 markets and 2,000 new traders taking part, giving budding entrepreneurs a chance to take their first step on the business ladder for free or stalls for under £10
- the High Street Innovation fund, which supported those councils with the most empty shops or affected by the 2011 riots, including Manchester City which is hosting a 2 day art festival to showcase local talent and featuring artistic installations from local students; 4 empty properties will be brought back into use, and over 20 retail window spaces will be redesigned
And to continue the lessons of the Portas Review, Mr Prisk also announced a £1 million package of peer-to-peer mentoring and support for town teams across the country.
Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk said: “Over the last year this government has worked hard to help boost the high street, including initiatives to simplify planning, revamp the public realm, cut the business rate burden and revive local markets.
“Now, the Future High Streets Forum will take a joint the lead in driving forward these initiatives and providing the strategic leadership needed to analyse the competition and tackle the difficult problems which conventional high streets need to address.”
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