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.

672 Responses to “”

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  2. nicholas hul says:

    As a small business I wish thank you for helping business fight to keep britian british and keep alive our heritage. There are however I think a couple of ideas that could help us grow stronger.
    1. We need a level playing field and the best way is to lobby the government to introduce a online shopping tax of 10%. Every item sold online should be taxed and the money raised should be used to eliminate buisiness rates and every town.should have free parking.
    2. A change in the law to give all leaseholders the.chance to break their lease without penalty if businesses dont make profit. Nobody should loose their home if a buisiness fails. Plus this change would encourage new business
    3. The radical idea. People who claim should be given some of the money in “portas” vouchers that can be spent in independent stores and high streets putting life back into the comunity.

  3. Johanna Williams says:

    Having just seen the report on bbc news this morning, and followed your excellent campaign for improving and preserving our high street, I thought you may find it of interest to look at the small market town of Bourne in South Lincolnshire as a bit of a case study. To date all of the parking in this town is free, the town is bustling on most days, there is a good variety of shops including several butchers and bakers. Unfortunately the green grocers fell foul of the arrival of supermarkets a few years ago. Bourne has two big supermarkets on the outskirts and a smaller one in the centre but still manages to have healthy high street. There is a high population of elderly people, is fairly rural and in an area that is not particularly affluent. Given these factors, it is almost a miracle that the high street thrives here but it is my humble opinion that this is largely due to the ample free parking the town offers. Might be worth a look at how the councillors here manage to do this and offer it as an example to other councils that free parking does work in other areas. Hope this helps

  4. Joe Hill says:

    We saw your piece on Breakfast and we share your disappointment. We have a shop in Marlow and we have seen the High Street turn from a collection of mostly independents to a collection of chain shops like anywhere else. Business Rates are still way too high even if they have stabilised a little over the last couple of years. Parking is even more an issue (ridiculously expensive and inadequate capacity). The main problem ,though, is property rents, which are all on the “upwards only review” lease type. This is exacerbated by the fact that almost all commercial premises in our High Street are owned by one family and they dictate the market. It would have been easy for the Government to legislate out the legality of the “upwards only review” clause and it would have cost the taxpayers nothing to do it. Perhaps there are too many landlords in Parliament?

  5. Christopher Hiscox says:

    Mary, I saw your piece on BBC Breakfast this morning, (Thursday 18th Dec 2014) in which you visited the centre of Stockport to show the poor results of whatever efforts have been made to renew the High Street. There is a formula for success that has not ben applied there but which is so obvious and which has been so successful in a small town nearby. Please visit URMSTON near Manchester and see what has been achieved there. From a recently failing square in the centre of Urmston with some careful planning, the place is now packed every day, the businesses are booming and the population is a whole lot happier. And all this had happened in the face of enormous competition from the giant Trafford Centre which is close by. The formula: Demolish some of the buildings in the area, build a low level multi-story car park – charges, first 3 hours free, attract businesses Sainsbury, Aldi, Iceland and a cheap shop like Quality Save. Attract a café of the quality and dedication to success, like Lilly’s, keep the place tidy with a dedicated team of cleaners, keep it free of the wrong people and free of trouble with a dedicated Security Team and the place will boom and its success will go viral in the town.

  6. robcreber says:

    i caught some of your news this morning and basically i agree with you . but where i come from tavistock in devon the answer is very simple, in my view, but NO One in any authority will even listen ! FREE PARKING and better traffic management. it is hideously hard to get into the town and when you do the parking is expensive and the wardens and like “bloody vultures” and very rude. also the 3 councils the BID and the chamber of commerce are all run by people “for their own ends” [oops !] and don’t talk and pull together.
    i could go on for pages but that’s enough.
    i ran a shop which was 130 years old and has now had to close [basically lack of foot fall due to parking and traffic [rates and BID contribution didn't help. [£26k approx !]

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