Policy Exchange says that the government should scrap its town centre first policy and leave town and city centres to businesses via BIDs.
In a new report the think tank also says that failing high streets should be converted into offices and homes rather than trying to salvage a retail offer.
The report attacks the town centre first policy which restricts large retail developments outside town centres saying it has "decreased competition between retailers and damaged the social fabric of many communities, especially outside the South East".
Instead the report proposes an ‘access first’ policy, which would focus on giving low income households improved access to social and retail hubs, but not restricting where these centres should be built.
It also recommends that councils which preside over "poorly run high streets but which have the potential to flourish" should have their powers removed and transferred to private sector-led BIDs. These new, stronger BIDs would control planning issues such as the allocation of use classes, car parking and transport policies, and manage facilities.
In Brighton the city centre BID
has provided a wealth of money-saving benefits to the 517 levy payers as well as paying for Christmas lights, on-street security patrols and dressing the city for summer with hanging baskets and bunting.
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