12 Dec 2011

Illustrations by Dermot Flynn

I want to put the heart back into the centre of our High Streets, re-imagined as destinations for socialising, culture, health, wellbeing, creativity and learning. Places that will develop and sustain new and existing markets and businesses. The new High Streets won’t just be about selling goods. The mix will include shops but could also include housing, offices, sport, schools or other social, commercial and cultural enterprises and meeting places. They should become places where we go to engage with other people in our communities, where shopping is just one small part of a rich mix of activities.

High Streets must be ready to experiment, try new things, take risks and become destinations again. They need to be spaces and places that people want to be in. High Streets of the future must be a hub of the community that local people are proud of and want to protect.

My goal is to breathe economic and community life back into our High Streets and town centres. I want to see all our High Streets bustling with people, services, and jobs. They should be vibrant places that people choose to visit. They should be destinations. Anything less is a wasted opportunity.

Please read through my full report below, or click here for a summary of my 28 recommendations.

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I’d love to hear your feedback. Please leave a comment below.

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  6. [...] that aggressive parking policies are harming local high streets and local shops. Mary Portas’ independent review on high street policy for the government advised that town centre car parking is “significantly [...]

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  10. Jenny SMith says:

    When first published this review was mind-blowing and should have been compulsory for each and every council to use as their town centre Bible. Mary had done the research – it just needed to be implemented. What has been done in Hyde town centre instead? Despite Tameside Council receiving the money – they have done hardly anything. INSTEAD they have taken the only multi-storey away to make for a (wait for it…) KFC! Whilst new business is welcome – removing the only multi-storey to the main shopping centre (Clarenden) is NOT what Mary Portas would recommend me thinks not. Mary – we need your help!

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      1) Il importe d’abord de retmtere en cause les classements eux-meames et l’usage qui en est fait.Les universite9s ne sont pas des produits de consommation que l on peut objectivement e9valuer comme on le fait pour des voitures ou e0 la fae7on des e9tiquettes nutritionnelles sur les produits alimentaires. D ailleurs, meame pour les voitures un jugement de ce qui est la meilleure automobile de9pend surtout de ce que le consommateur veut de cette voiture (vitesse, se9curite9, consommation de carburant, prestige, etc.) Et si le public comprend bien cela pour les voitures, le meame public (et les gouvernements) croient par contre que la performance d une universite9 peut eatre e9value9e par des parame8tre simplifie9s et re9sume9s, comparables mondialement.Or la performance d une universite9 ne peut eatre re9sume9e par un seul nombre ni meame une collection de quelques chiffres. La capacite9 des classements e0 re9ellement mesurer la valeur re9elle des universite9s pour la socie9te9 reste e0 ce jour extreamement discutable, et conduit e0 une vision de9forme9e de ce que les universite9s sont re9ellement.A force d’avoir le regard fixe9 sur les classements, tous les acteurs (universite9s, bailleurs de fonds, gouvernement et autres de9cideurs) adoptent des comportements biaise9s et dangereux. Sous la pression des classements, ils sont tente9s de modifier leurs politiques et leurs pratiques uniquement pour mieux figurer dans un classement, au de9triment d’objectifs fondamentaux sur la gouvernance, la formation, la recherche 2) Ensuite il faut rappeler des critiques sur la forme et la me9thodeLes indicateurs de performance utilise9s dans les classements sont en ge9ne9ral inade9quats, car il est tre8s difficile de mesurer directement certains e9le9ments de performance. Par exemple, les salaires de de9part des diplf4me9s universitaires est conside9re9 comme un indicateur indirect de la qualite9 de l enseignement, e0 la diffe9rence, ce qui est e9videmment inade9quat et biaise9; e0 titre de comparaison, la consommation de carburant d une voiture est elle une mesure directe et transparente.En effet, la plupart des donne9es utilise9es pour mesurer la performance des universite9s:1) ne sont pas facilement disponibles ou non fiables par exemple, les donne9es de publication et de citation dans les sciences humaines, l e9valuation de la production dans les arts, les donne9es sur les re9sultats de la recherche interdisciplinaire ou des programmes, les accords de licence, etc2) ne sont pas comparables entre les pays et les continents par exemple, les donne9es sur les e9tudiants, le personnel, car les de9finitions et les me9thodes de comptage varient beaucoup (par exemple, les doctorants sont classe9s comme e9tudiants, comme salarie9s, ou les deux).3) sont tre8s lourdes e0 recueillir – aujourd’hui les universite9s fournissent toutes sortes de donne9es e0 divers organismes, dont beaucoup exigent diffe9rentes fae7ons d e9valuer. Meame si l’exercice est justifie9 le temps de plus en plus excessif et les efforts consacre9s e0 des exercices d e9valuations deviendront intenable dans l avenir, remettant en question ainsi la fiabilite9 desdites e9valuations.

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  21. [...] Speaking at the BCSC Conference, Mary Portas questioned the Government’s committment to her High Street Review. The BCSC has also sent an open letter to the Prime Minister challenging the Government to take [...]

  22. christopher Evans says:

    Dear Mary
    Not the easiest of forms of communication but hey modern days!
    I live near a local North Yorkshire market town of Stokesley which is primarily a farming town. I actually have a small office within the town. I am not from this area so I am very much eyes looking in .
    I have just objected to planning for a supermarket and petrol station built on Farm Land on the outskirt of the town!
    I know that you say the government ask you to carry out a survey but surveys are absolutely a waste of time without action and joined up thinking especially with local planners and central government policy.
    The town suffers from high rental and small independent business struggle to keep going especially as it is Farming community and the high number of older people with cash that wont be spent! Last year saw the demise of a fabulous deli and with a bit more support , lower rental and help from the County Council that would of survived.
    I visited some properties myself as initially looking for an office and behind a beautiful Georgian façade the building are crumbling into disrepair due to greedy property owners not investing and upkeeping the property.
    Towns need more support not only ensuring that the buildings remain in tact but open for business and good marketing and events to attract people into the town. So the council sits on their ass but accepts planning applications for something that will put more nails in the towns coffin.
    Yes the town needs people with passion and also with vision plus collaboration to prosper: this is possible as I used to live close to Ramsbottom which turned from a no go town with feral kids rampaging at night to a town bustling with independent shops.
    Personaly I would love to open a Deli, plus ideas surrounding food to bring people into the town but can you get financial assistance and investment … Not on your nelly you can!
    What I don’t get is the government ask a question about the high street . Do these MP’s walk around with the eyes and minds shut or are they delusional that in their power everything is rosy? And if they are concerned why isn’t there are joined up thinking , talking instead of the usual stupidity that exists of conflict , greed, agenda and point scoring across the land.
    Very frustrated Mary with this country and the bullshit , laziness and obstinate people that stop our country being great again! Didn’t Napoloean say Briton was a nation of shop keepers , that was meant to be a compliment of respect. Now we are a nation of grey suits , process managers etc no wonder there isn’t any umph!

  23. Kate Brown says:

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  24. [...] (but don’t tell him that). So when she was invited, by the Government, to present a thorough, independent review on the future of our troubled retail she was unequivocal in her response: Make markets the heart of [...]

  25. androulla says:

    A business that is being closed to make room for a sainsburys
    Androulla’s Fashion House – A Unique sponsorship opportunity

    Dear mary


    Androulla’s Fasion House (AFH) is a unique boutique in Stoke Newington,
    north London. The label ‘Toumaza’ was established over a decade ago by
    proprietor and designer, Androulla Toumaza. AFH focuses on creating
    high-quality bespoke tailoring using natural fabrics. The team at AFH
    other than Androulla include her seamstress mother Helene.

    The history behind AFH is of a family who have been trading in north
    London for over 42 years. AFH contributes its foundation to Helene’s
    experiences in the London rag trade since the 1950’s and later to her
    becoming an independent entrepreneur creating clothing from a small
    factory outlet in Stoke Newington in the 1970’s. Prior to passing the
    business over to Androulla the family made clothes for many fashion
    houses eg English Eccentrics, Katherine Hamnett, and Monsoon.

    Androulla graduated from the London College of Fashion in the early
    eighties and has been creating clothing from her studio workshop at the
    Stoke Newington premises since then. Both Helene and Androulla with
    years of experience have skills which are sadly lacking in today’s
    fashion ‘High Street. They provide a warm user friendly service, an
    asset in attracting customers to their Fashion House as well as
    ensuring their customers constantly return for their unique service.
    AFH is firmly on the map in this avant-garde area.

    Drawing inspiration from 1940’s/1950’s couture and vintage clothing
    AFH’s designs are created by Androulla from the initial design sketches
    through to one-off designs. Couture creations by AFH include daywear,
    coats, bridal and evening wear. Each garment designed at AFH
    celebrates the feminine form and its elegance and eloquence.

    Each client is offered a fabulous personal service with classic
    tailoring and quality fabrics together with welcomed advice and
    hospitiality. AFH uniquely employs a holistic approach to clothing.
    They collaborate with their customers to find out what works for them
    individually. A preferred garment can be made in a chosen colour and
    fabric. The mother and daughter team at AFH pride themselves on being
    able to offer their customers a service on par with any other top
    fashion house such as Alexander McQueen as the working principal is the
    same. Following an exchange of ideas between Androulla and the client,
    they are then measured starting a process which results with an
    immaculately finished garment and a fully satisfied client, often
    brides, who regularly invite Androulla and Helen to attend the wedding
    or occasion for which the garment was designed.

    Androulla’s Fashion House, Community Values

    Firmly established, AFH is a member of the Stoke Newington Business
    Association and is an asset to the Stoke Newington business community,
    AFH’s remarkable longevity owes itself to their business reliability
    which has seen it survive 5 recessions.

    In support of its community AFH donated monies towards the building of
    an additional wing to the Homerton University Hospital in Hackney.

    AFH regularly contributes monies to local fundraising events held
    together with the Stoke Newington Business Association and has
    successfully raised £2,500 towards breast cancer research.

    Whilst gaining recognition by fashion industry aficionados for creating
    high quality bespoke garments, it is a testament to AFH that in an era
    witnessing the death of many hand-made clothing independent businesses
    they have survived this dying trade while experiencing 5 recessions.
    Press reviews have assisted AFH with raising its profile as a unique
    business. A Financial Times review quoted Androulla as being ‘The
    London dressmaker who weaves magic’. Other press reviews have stated
    AFH is ‘the best kept secret in Stoke Newington’ and has called AFH
    ‘this little jewel of a clothing empire’.

    As an independent business AFH offers a refreshing and affordable
    alternative to off-the-peg clothing accessible on the high street.

    The Future of AFH

    The future of AFH has been determined, as in light of the approval by
    the local authority to permit Sainsbury’s to build a Stoke Newington
    Sainsbury’s supermarket (despite ongoing objections from local
    residents and businesses), AFH has received their eviction notice. The
    development of the supermarket is due to take place on the site of AFH
    and that of other commercial concerns in the vicinity, a massive blow
    to the many small and independent businesses who collectively are in no
    position to compete with large corporations, the like of Sainsbury’s.

    AFH are indeed saddened and devastated by the decision to approve the
    Sainsbury’s development. All time, energy and monies which been have
    been put into fighting the closure have been futile, therefore I hope
    you will be able to invest in this burgeoning business.

    Your Investment

    The team at AFH, possess life-long skills, which they are not ready to
    put to an end to as a result of losing the business premises in Stoke
    Newington. Prior to becoming aware of Sainsbury’s intention to build a
    supermarket, time, energy and money had been injected in to the
    business for plans to expand by opening a school of training for
    students interested in learning sewing skills and pattern cutting, etc.
    The intention is to create a corporation of customers to assist with
    developing the business and training plans. A number of potential
    investors have shown interest and the vision will be another way of
    sharing and giving back to the local community.

    As a small ongoing business the priority is to ensure continuation
    following the shock of learning of Hackney Council’s decision to
    approve planning permission for the Sainsbury’s property development.
    AFH has been a rate payer to the Hackney Council for over forty years.
    As a result of the council’s approval livelihoods are under threat and
    moreover considerable earnings will be lost until alternative premises
    are secured. It is extortionately expensive to run a small business
    where the emphasis is on ‘customer satisfaction’ and not profit. To
    date no assistance has been received from Hackney Council with the
    search for alternative business premises.

    AFH ask that you consider investing to prevent the closure of this
    independent and unique fashion business which has much to offer and
    providing funding to enable commencement with the plans for the school
    of training.

    Please do not hesitate to contact Androulla with any questions you may
    Androulla toumazos
    Design ltd
    N16 0LH

  26. frances freel says:

    mary, I have read your comments and watches your programmes with regards to high street shopping and having worked in retail, I was overjoyed with your work. However, I have recently come across a serious problem in House of Fraser, where you advertise and sell your brand. My son bought me a Mary Portas cardigan, which was too large. I called into the store after christmas and asked them to change the item to a smaller size. I did not wish to tell my son as the item was a gift and I didn’t want to seem ungrateful. Absolutely under no circumstances would they exchange my lovely cardi. I then had to contact my son and ask for the receipt. Now they tell me that I have passed the return date. So here in my wardrobe is a useless Mary Portas cardigan. aghhh!!!!!! I have also contacted customer services for H.O.F. and they do not wish to help.

  27. Jenifer Konko says:

    Hi Mary, i am writing to obtain any advice or help with the introduction of new parking controls in Victoria Park in Hackney. We have recently been consulted on a problem with displacement parking, brought about by heavy handed controls close by, and the council have skewed the results in favour of an all day 5 day a week resident parking scheme. Although we have made pleas at every meeting and had two local councillors campaign for a more preferable 2 hour (10-12) slot it all appears to be falling on deaf ears. There are 57 small independent businesses at risk if this goes ahead. We have 21 days to come up with petitions, letters etc and would appreciate any help your team can advise with this

  28. Michael Griffiths says:

    Hope there is still momentum in your review.The High St is still suffering at the hands of greedy councils , the internet and even the weather!
    One idea that might have some merit might be to put up temporary covered walkways along High streets during November and December to shelter customers. These would be along the road and have open sides so customers could see the shop windows.Literally turning the high street into a covered mall (objections permitting)

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  32. when we were in scotland we had a small cafe/gift /shop/B&B.we were in a village which was a little under visited.we discovered to our pleasure that in certain areas of scotland small ,1 off business are not charged rates , I believe it transformed the village we were in ,it became a thriving little village ,all shops occupied and making money , could this help in England ?

  33. Jonathan Collins says:

    sheffield high street is suffering but the planning department are pushing through planning for more small supermarkets in densely populated areas, killing off the small independent shops. It’s criminal what has just happened. A planning application which was opposed by the community of Sharrow has been given the go-ahead. This is going to kill 3 small independent shops and make parking in the area even more difficult, not to mention public and road users safety. Sheffield Planning department have a lot to answer for!

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  35. Hi. I applaud the work you are doing.
    Your workload must be massive. My beef is that the financial pressure on the High Street is mirrored in the small business sector and is caused -in part by the business rate, system.
    I would ask that more is discussed about alternatives.
    Kind regards Jerry

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  38. I refer to your visit last year to Liskeard where you made certain recommendations to bring life back to the town centres in this country and your visit was well received. Just a year on I have offered a very respectable deal to Kivells the Estate Agents operating the Cattle Market and their Council Landlords to run Community Car Boot Sales on Sundays which has been refused by Kivells partners.

    I fear your efforts to revitalise Liskeard have been wasted as I am convinced our events would have brought the Community spirit together in the town centre on Sunday mornings with our fantastic recycling Car Boot Sales visited by over 400,000 visits during 2013


  39. marc hall says:

    Hello Mary, I saw an interview you did on TV which stated that Eric Pickles had allowed,
    an out of town development to go ahead, can you please remind me which town that was.



  40. Please Help
    I live in the stunning market town of Louth in Lincolnshire, Our district council (East Lindsey District Council) want
    to sell our cattle market and allow a large supermarket onto the site. If this happens our wonderful high street will be doomed.
    How can our government ask you to help revitalise our high streets and then allow a district council to ruin Louths high street. We as a small Linconshire town are the envy of many towns in the UK. We have the most amazing independant shops and three markets a week.
    I believe that you really care about the UK’s high streets, and are able to talk to David Cameron directly, again I ask “Please Help”

    • Janet says:

      hi Ann – did you ever get any response to your request for help re Louth? I wonder if there’s much point in writing when there are so many small communities under threat? regards, Janet

  41. Alan Burlison says:

    “I’d love to hear your feedback” – really? In that case why did you delete my comment about a town where the high street isn’t dead whilst leaving many other other link spam comments alone?

    • Alan Burlison says:

      Ugh, as soon as I posted that my previous comment reappeared which is still in moderation queue – it didn’t show up until I posted a new comment. Apologies but it did look like it had been deleted – please delete this comment and its parent.

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