A report commissioned by the government has labelled town centres in the UK as “dead”, with increasing numbers of business premises becoming vacant. Mary Portas, the celebrity retail expert stated that urgent action was required to halt the crisis.
A number of measures were suggested by the expert, in an attempt to inject vitality back into the high street and town centres. Ms Portas called for out of town retail developments to be restricted, with priority given to town centres, as part of new planning regulations. She also called for a specified number of “affordable shops” to be included in developments outside town.
The retail expert was approached in May to compile the report as the government were concerned about the increasing numbers of retail properties in town centres becoming vacant. According to Ms Portas, today’s high street shopping is still representative of the sixties, when shopping was just shopping. Today, shopping is done on the Internet, hypermarkets and retail outlets outside town. Ms Portas presented 28 recommendations to the government, including the removal of parking restrictions so that shoppers will be encouraged to visit the centre.
Other recommendations included a national market day, cutting the number of obstacles which stand in the way of retail development and cutting red tape for retailers on the high street. The British Retail Consortium said:
“Clearly a national market day is never going to be the sole solution but alongside a range of other measures it could make a useful contribution to generate interest and stimulate shop numbers, adding to the originality and distinctiveness of particular town centres.”
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