Bid to become a Portas Pilot

4 Feb 2012

Bid to become a Portas Pilot

Mary Portas and the Local Government Minister, Grant Shapps, have launched a competition to choose 12 towns to become “Portas Pilots”, with the winners benefiting from a share of £1million to help turn around their “unloved and unused” high streets.

The cash incentive is offered to those towns that come up with the best High Street blueprints in a move that fulfils the first and last recommendations of Mary Portas’ High Streets Review, commissioned by the Prime Minister and published before Christmas.

Grant Shapps said:

“Our high streets have faced stiff competition from Internet shopping, and out-of-town shopping centres – leaving them underused, unloved and under-valued.  The Internet is not going to go away, and so for our high streets to survive they need to offer something new and exciting.

“So today I’m offering a golden ticket to 12 town centres across the country to become “Portas Pilots” – areas with the vision and enthusiasm to breathe new life into what should be the beating heart of their communities, and they will get Mary’s and my support as they try out the ideas in her recent review.”

Taking forward the first recommendation from Mary Portas’s review, the 12 successful localities will create Town Teams, made up of the key players in their local community – such as the council, local landlords, shopkeepers and the local MP.

These teams will then benefit from the backing of the Minister, Whitehall and Mary Portas herself as they take forward the recommendations from the review and in their area.  They will also receive a share of £1million.

Grant Shapps added:

“I want to see how these Town Teams plan to try new things, experiment and ensure that their high streets and parades become destinations for local people want to be.   But these pilots are just the start.  We want to learn their lessons and help communities across the country breathe new life into their own towns.  Launching this competition now is a signal of our understanding that there’s no time to waste in driving forward these important measures.”

Mr Shapps will give the full Government response to the review by the Spring.


Successful bidders will need to demonstrate how they have the energy, enthusiasm and vision to make a real difference to their town centres and make them the hubs of their communities.

Areas will need to demonstrate how they plan to breathe new life into their high streets and shopping parades, but not just in a staid application form – Mr Shapps would also like to see their pitches to become Portas Pilots in short YouTube clips.

For details on exactly how your town can bid, please visit –

Further details:

We are looking for pilots areas with a transformational vision for their high street and the backing to make it a reality. The lead partner should be able to clearly articulate this vision and demonstrate strong support for it from the local community and a wide range of local partners. The bids will need to show:

  • A mix of pilot areas from a variety of town centres and high streets including market towns, villages, large towns, new towns, coastal towns and suburban areas.  We also want to ensure a good geographical spread, as well as areas with both high / low average income levels  and high / low empty shop vacancy rates;
  • Commitment: we are looking for bids to demonstrate maximum commitment to the town team approach.
  • Potential for improvement: resources will be allocated on a value for money basis and therefore areas must be able to demonstrate their potential for improvement; and
  • Innovation. Bidders are asked to provide an outline of what the key priorities for their pilot area will be.  We are looking for the most innovative ideas and evidence of strong leadership that will have maximum impact and can be replicated elsewhere.

The recommendations of the Portas Review aim to:

* Get town centres running like businesses: by strengthening the management of high streets through new ‘Town Teams’, developing the Business Improvement District model and encouraging new markets;

* Get the basics right to allow businesses to flourish: by looking at how the business rate system could better support small businesses and independent retailers, encouraging affordable town centre car parking and looking at further opportunities to remove red tape on the high street;

* Level the playing field: by ensuring a strong town centre first approach in planning and encouraging large retailers to show their support for high streets;

* Define landlords’ roles and responsibilities: by looking at disincentives for landlords leaving properties vacant and empowering local authorities to step in when landlords are negligent; and

* Give communities a greater say: by greater inclusion of the high street in neighbourhood planning and councils using their new discretionary powers to give business rate concessions to new local businesses

19,178 Responses to “Bid to become a Portas Pilot”

  1. Kash Thompson says:

    I’d like to nominate Lancing to receive your support Mary. I moved here three years ago from London and have found it to be a very friendly welcoming community. It has an excellent location between the coast and the southdowns, good road access via the A27, and frequent rail links to Portsmouth, Brighton and London.

    When I moved here the high street still had signs of life, and I was really pleased to see a couple of other new, unusual shops opening. I have been even more disappointed to see these as well as other, long established shops struggling and closing. It was described to me recently as starting to resemble a pit town in the 1980s!

    The local community are very keen to support and promote our village and have formed our own group to do what we can ourselves while also encouraging the local Parish and District councils to increase their level of investment and interest in Lancing. Lancing has so much potential – we just need someone with the experience and skills and vision to help us turn it around.

    I hope this helps you chose to support Lancing as part of your project.

    THanks for taking time to read this.

  2. Hazel Newson says:

    I would really appreciate Royal Wootton Bassett being considered for one of the pilots. If ever there was a case for
    helping a High Street, it has to be ours. As a retailer and member of Chamber of commerce we would love your advice on making our town a great place to visit and let people get to know the other side of Royal Wootton Bassett and not just for repatriations much as we were happy to support our troops.

  3. Simon Moore says:

    I live in lancing, West sussex and it really is a great place to live. Im very much into my sports and love the fact that I can walk to the seafront in less than a couple of minutes and then hop on my mountain bike and within 10 mins Im on the Southdowns way. However and it is a big however over the years the neighbouring councils have got greedy and have looked after there own namely Worthing and Shoreham and basically Lancing has been left to rot. We are the poor relation left to fend for its self . So much so the residents have got together with bags of enthusiasm and community spirit and formed Lancing regeneration. They are taking on the councils and saying We love Lancing and we will get Lancing back to the way it use to be. Going back to the sports, The councils have failed to see our location as an attraction because they have been so greedy. Lancing beach is one of the best kitesurfing beaches around the UK, It regularly brings people down from all over the country to kite, we hold national competitions and have many professionals using it. Im currently the chairman for the Kitesurfing club and I know the potential we have with the beach, but it is hard to publicise Lancing as the place to come due to the remainder of the village which as I have mentioned has been left to rack and ruin. The Southdowns way is a magnificent 100 mile trail from Winchester to Eastbourne and here at Lancing we have direct access to it for all to enjoy it from Mountainbikers, ramblers and dog walkers, you can see on a clear day the whole of the southcoast. Yet the councils don’t see that Lancing has any potential. If a little money was spent on the Village, this would attract others to invest in the village and we could again become a proud Village. Please support us Mary and believe in Lancing Regeneration

  4. maggie fowler says:

    Runcorn is a dying town…but as you can see from our Facebook pages the people are trying to fight back…To this end I beleive that all the closed shops could become co-operatives…with three or four shop keepers who have gone out of business combining to pay the extortionate business rates “decided by National Government”….and also local social enterprise groups to set up home in the empty buildings and provide childcare and youth clubs and dance classes…I would be prepared to work FREE to help set these up…I want to be a Pilot :)

  5. Carly Burrows says:

    I would like to nominate Trowbridge, the county town of Wiltshire. We are constantly promised change for the better, but the town is in a downward spiral of desperation.

  6. colin gledhill says:

    Hi i have been appointed President of Halifax Borough Markeet tennants assosiasion and am in need of help tom regenarate this lovely Victorian indoor Market and surrounding streets i have been a stallholder for over 42 years
    and the lack of investment and commitment by our local concillors is second to none our market alone make for the council approx 5 HOUNDRED THOUSAND POUDS PER YEAR and yet there is no commitment to reinvest it seems if you a one of the FAB 4 THE SUPERMARKETS you can have it all there are 2 supermarkets near to us
    where they have changed the road layout put up traffic lights to help shoppers in and out thats not a big isue for me but
    when the shoppers come to Halifax they have to pay parking charges we have hitler style wardens in dosnt seem fair
    Try telling the supermarket when they build a store they canot have a carpark or it will be a pay and display they would
    not be interested yet all accross britain small shops markets and office workers have to pay to go to work and to go shopping well its about time something should be done. You sound to be the right girl for the job many thanks
    a frustrated Market Stallholder Colin Gledhill Acting President Halifax Victorian Borough Market.

  7. Alan Sheldon says:

    Hillsborough shopping area in Sheffield used to be a bustling and vibrant place in which to shop and meet. Big High Street players such as Tesco and Woolworths used to have a presence, there were numerous small independent shops and even a few market stalls. The place is now scruffy with estate agents and charity shops to the fore. The area is surrounded by housing and the Supertam system runs right through the main shopping area, making it ripe for attracting people in to shop – providing there is something more to pull them in. The local council could do much more to maintain the infrastructure – at least keep it clean. But, if everyone with an interest pulled together it could become a destination for shopping which would be in everyone’s interest.

  8. Amy Manners says:

    I’d like to nominate Lancing, West Sussex to take part in this much needed initiative to ignite back the heart of the village high street. To describe Lancing’s current state in three words – Dire, Dismal and Depressing! Lancing has all the ingredients to be a fab seaside town, nestled in between Worthing and Shoreham by Sea it boasts: good commuter links to Portsmouth and London. Fashionable Brighton is 10miles away, we have a sailing club, british kite surf school and the most wonderful beach- far superior to Brighton! But the high street and shops are like a land that time forgot! Most shops look uncared for grubby and unloved. Even the plants and flowers have wilted and died in the council provided pots. Parks are rusty and grim, not really places for children to play. Please help us Mary as Lancing needs a fat lick of paint to make it look like a quaint seaside town again!

  9. HI We have just open a new pioneering themed designer dress display boutique in central GLOUCESTER with a view to open more in the centre and in CHELTENHAM the boutique since opening has been the talk of the town and word is spreading far and wide as it is quite unique concept which we can explain in more detail . We have big concerns about the other failing businesses and empty shops around the town and in Cheltenham we have offered our help to the local council mayor / sheriff/ mps to try to help the doom and gloom that is always being reported in the local papers . We have lots of good ideas and proposals , it would be great to discuss them with you . Regards Sylvia and Greg Piontek MISS SILVER THEMED BOUTIQUE

  10. David Hesford says:

    I would like to nominate the town of Rhyl in North Wales for consideration. Rhyl is a family holiday resort that has fallen on very hard-times in recent decades. The local authority has previously tried to attract shoppers and visitors by investing public funds into commercially unviable projects with limited success. Even locally, Rhyl has become a byword for decay and depression.

    Rhyl also needs to see that it will be English money from visitors and investors rather than public funds that will see it’s regeneration.

    Rhyl needs a commercially-led initiative to help retaillers see it for the place that it is and the place that it could be. Rhyl is one of a handfull of commercial centres in North Wales with good transport links and despite being a holiday town, is not subject to major fluctuations – activity during the the winter season effectively balances-out activity during the summer.

    Hopefully we will see entrepreneurs set up new businesses in towns across the UK to fill the voids.


  11. Caroline Robbins says:

    I am another supporter of Lancing in West Sussex, the largest village in England. It benefits from being nestled between the South Downs and the beach but unfortunately the benefits of such have been overlooked by Worthing & Adur Council. The village has been in decline for a number of years and the few remaining independent retailers are struggling in this economic climate as more and more people head out to the outlying retail parks and superstores with free parking and more choice. Lancing has so much potential and if marketed properly could really become THE place to be for future generations. A local community group is already making a difference by fighting for Lancing to be top of our council’s agenda and motivating local residents and traders to see the positives of Lancing and what can be achieved if we work together. I don’t want to see Lancing continue to be Worthing & Adur’s dumping ground because the residents and traders deserve so much more. You only have to look at the Lancing Regeneration Facebook page to see all the support for Lancing. It is time to put Lancing back on the map!

  12. I nominate Lancing in Sussex. I moved in just over a year ago and feel the sadness at the loss of what was a sweet community based place to be. There is such an effort from the local community and businesses to fight again yet they can’t do this without resources or back up. People are pulling together and groups are arranging and organising with plans. This needs backing. We have a community that wants to thrive together, grow and create business and community again. So please back it.

    Deborah Fields

  13. June Greensmith says:

    There is’nt a town in Britain that does not need help and we all know why, Internet and out of town shopping malls and, lets not forget the town centre shopping malls. All of these kill off the small retail business. Hull has many empty units as much as 25% in one area which 20 years ago was so busy you could hardly walk down the street. Remember the Corner Shop, we saw and end to that when small supermarkets sprang to life and now the small supermarket is in decline as we now have super supermarkets. I don’t know what will happen to our City Centre or HIgh Streets what I do know is that they are a great place to live and have a great community feel, not unlike a village. My decision to live in the Town Centre was purely financial and business needs, what I found is a place I love being in. I lived in a 4 bed semi in a very sort after part of west Hull for 18 years and only spoke to 3 neighbours. At Christmas I sent the usual card “Our house to your house” I did not know thier names!!!!!!!!. In Hull City Centre I speak with my neighbours everyday and we are on first names. I use all the local shops and eateries. I have saved a fortune on petrol, rates and food costs. There is a glut of propeties with empty 1st and 2nd floors which can become homes, not just flats for single people, but real homes. We have derelict buildings taking up large plots which could be used to build town houses with gardens and parking. Good planning could achive town centre villages. We need to think “out of the box”. Imagine a place were all your needs are within walking distance. We have Colleagues so why not a School? This would enable families to live in the town centre. After all, if shops can go out of town and suceed why can’t people live in town and suceed????? Does this not happen elsewhere? Also, Hull City Council needs to clean up its own buildings especially Kingston House it is a disgrace. get your act together KHCC and set the standard for the future.

  14. kerry ramshaw says:

    I nominate Lancing; This is a small enough town to be a real community but it is having it’s gits ripped out by the fact that there is nothing left in the town. People are travelling to the many retail parks and the small shops are being shut almost weekly, which makes the high street look so unappealing.

    We have recently had our local academy fail it’s OFSTED; the people of Lancing need and deserve something to make them proud, to make them realise that there is a community just waiting to be reborn.

  15. Lydia Schilbach says:

    I’m another one for Lancing in West Sussex – it’s full of potential, but somehow has never been able to harness it. Lancing had a cinema years ago. It closed. We had arty galleries and cafes. They closed. We still have a village high street, but the traditional shops are struggling and new businesses find it difficult to take hold.
    Thankfully a grass-roots community group has started up on its own and is trying to turn things around, inspiring the local community and the Parish Council alike. All the business community here needs is a bit of backing and Lancing will thrive again. I’m convinced of it.

  16. Alice Jackman says:

    Trowbridge is a worthy contender for a little help. The town council has some exciting ideas, but is rather hampered by the presence of 4 major supermarkets in the town – Asda, Tesco, Sainsburys and Wilkinson. The impact on the high street has been huge – it now resembles a rather ‘gappy smile’. There has also been a misguided attempt at creating revenue for the council by putting up the parking charges in the closest carparks to town – making it difficult for those who cannot walk far to ‘just pop into’ Trowbridge.
    There are great plans for a cinema and riverside development – but to revitalise the heart of Trowbridge, we need interesting shops.
    So, Mary Portas – we have the attitude, we have the vision – can you give us the fine tuning and direction??

  17. Grace says:

    I would like to nominate Trowbridge where I live. I have lived in Trowbridge for 5 years and in that time it has changed rapidly. The high street is now dominated by pound shops, pawn shops and charity shops. The last independent fruit and veg shop closed a couple of weeks ago due to soaring rent and a large asda round the corner. I live 5 minutes from the town centre and opposite our house is a grade 1 listed building which has been empty for all the time we have been here, places like that would make ideal offices/workshops for small businesses but all it’s had is a crumbling to let sign outside.. I run my own floristry business and I know we couldn’t afford the rent of a shop in the town. I know there are people who want Trowbridge to succeed but I think they need a kick start so I’m voting Trowbridge

  18. Emma Veal says:

    I nominate Trowbridge, the County Town of Wiltshire. Trowbridge has the potential to be a beautiful and thriving market town once more, with a little guidance from Mary Portas and a much-needed injection of cash for some rejuvenation! Trowbridge has some stunning examples of Georgian and Victorian architecture in the town centre that cry out to be noticed, but at the moment what draws your attention are the rather dilapidated shop fronts, which mostly consist of charity shops, bookies or just empty shops. And Trowbridge does have some lovely independent shops, but at the moment these are finding it hard to compete with high street behemoths such as Tesco, Asda and Wilkinson. I would like to see Trowbridge becoming a ‘destination’ for independent shopping and for local produce, and most of all fulfilling the potential that it so clearly has to be a beautiful county town that Wiltshire can be proud of.

  19. clare says:

    Lancing in West Sussex should be one of the villages included in the pilot. It’s a lovely seaside village with a great beach and green with the South Downs behind. It has a village centre with an incredible community spirit. Never have I lived on a street where I know and speak to so many of my neighbours. On paper Lancing is Brilliant. You can do your whole shop on our high street, there is a butcher, a bakers, a veg shop, toy shop, and more, everything you need but why is it not being accessed, why are shops struggling to survive. High parking, landlords allowed to leave shops vacant, broken planters, neglected parks are all driving people to shop out of the village. The villagers have already started to do something themselves forming a dynamic community group with innovative ideas aimed at empowering the villagers making a better place to live and work, moving with the times. So many things are trying to happen and with the money and support of the Mary Portas Pilot we could put into action a few innovative ideas to regenerate the area and make it a place to visit again. Working with our local parish we could breath new life into Lancing.

  20. Samantha Whiley says:

    I would like to nominate Trowbridge – the “Market Town” of Wiltshire.

    Trowbridge is a pretty market town that is crying out for rejuvenation. It is located 10 miles from Bath, a few miles from the scenic Bradford on Avon, yet in comparison is struggling to attract people to visit and for locals to use its high street. At one stage it was one of the wealthiest towns in the country, flourishing on the textile industry. Today it is underdeveloped and struggling to communicate a clear identity.

    It is evident that the town is growing numerically. Developers have been working on housing and there are plans for the development of several out of town sites. However, our high street is suffering and this is a real shame in light of the beautiful buildings and rich history that the town could potentially offer. We need help and expertise to help this market town to rightfully step up to its title as a MARKET TOWN. Wiltshire is a large area and we should be setting an example!

    There are numerous people willing, hoping, praying, for this place to reach its potential. PLEASE consider us!

    • I would also like to nominate the Market Town of Wiltshire, Trowbridge.
      Trowbridge has a tremendous amount of potential, both architecturally and commercially, and is in dire need of regeneration. Since moving there two years ago I have found that a strong community spirit exists in the town, and there are a number of like-minded people like me who are all passionate about growing Trowbridge and helping it become the town that it has the potential to be.
      It is terribly disheartening to see the ailing high street, and to see so many small independent businesses and restaurants closing in Trowbridge, whilst ‘superstores’ continue to grow and prosper on the outskirts of town.
      I urge you to please consider Trowbridge for this, as this support could make the world of difference.

      • Liz Dumain says:

        I would like to join the chorus of people nominating Trowbridge – this Town has so much potential – we have a rich heritage of historic buildings and creativity but our High Street has been decimated by shops moving out of town and closing down.
        This leaves people feeling there is nothing to come in to Trowbridge for thus putting even the shops that remain at risk. More and more homes are being built in the surrounding area and this could be the opportunity to breathe new life into Trowbridge – restoring hope, and giving local people an opportunity to fulfil their potential by living and working in their local community.

  21. Charlie Thompson says:

    Hi am going to suggest Lancing in West Sussex.

    I know there are a few other people who have suggested Lancing already and do agree with their views. Lancing has been let down, it is tried and needs investment.

    The thing it does have is buckets (and spades) of potential. There is a high street just dying to be bought back to life, a strong community and an amazing beach and beach green.

    There are transport links to Brighton, Worthing and London. I lived in Brighton for 10 years and moved out of the city to enjoy the ‘village’ life. There are quite a lot of other people doing this. There is a younger generation growing and Lancing needs to have a good kick to get with the times.

  22. Maree Green says:

    I would like to nominate Harwich, which is a small seaside town on the Essex coast. Our local council has been trying hard to inject our town with new ideas, such as a ‘pop up shop’ where people who have always wanted to run their own shop can try for three months with only utility bills to pay and no rent. One lady was so sucessful that she has now opened her own craft supply shop, where in turn, people like myself can sell their crafts which they make. This helps everyone out and without the councils help this may never have happened We have a town centre manager who is full of ideas, but we have the usual ‘politics’ stopping many of them being put into place. Harwich has so much to offer with a beautiful sea front, surrounded by country side, lovely historic buildings. But, we have hugh competition from colchester, Ipswich and even London. We not only need people from outside our town to visit us but our own towns people need to help the shop keepers by shopping localy. Please help us, many thanks for reading this Maree at Bojangles Jewellery by Maree x

  23. Tricia Seaman says:

    I would like to nominate Harwich in Essex, we have dedicated shop keepers who are trying to survive and battle against major towns such as Colchester and Ipswich who are both within a 40 minute drive and internet shopping. We have Harwich International about 3 miles from the town centre but they ship the crew and passengers out as we have little to offer, we have so many empty shops and lots of names that we hear are looking at maybe setting up in the town but it never follows through. Harwich has it’s problems, but it also has a good community at heart that want to see our town thrive so that we can offer jobs to our young people and give the community pride on it’s own doorstep. Please consider us and re juvinate our town.

  24. Heather Wilson says:

    I nominate Lancing, the largest village in the UK. It must be one of the friendliest too. I came here from the Isle of Wight and was scared stiff of the mainland. Nearly 40 years later I know most people here and I feel as though I belong here. We holiday-let our home while looking after my elderly Mum-in-Law and all of our guests find Lancing to be the friendly place I crack it up to be. They comment on how helpful the shopkeepers are. The shops try to stock what their customers want and ask them to help to choose new stock. They are struggling against nearby competition and I manage to get 95% of what I need in Lancing. Shops lie empty because the rents are too high so the landlords get nothing! We need some types of shops that we do not have and some of the existing businesses should be helped to expand and continue to do what they do best. We have courage,loyalty and innovation in Lancing. Please give us the chance to make good use of those attributes.

  25. Hi Mary, I would love to nominate Harwich for this scheme~ a lovely seaside town with a great historic background and an international port we should be flourishing but in desperate need of help and support for our dwindling shops~ I myself run Vintagefresh a Shabby Chic Furniture and Vintage store ~ online with a small shop within another at the moment and would love to get into the high strret~
    I recently had the opportunity to take part in a pop up shop run by our local council~ which gave new business’s the chance to trial their idea free for 3 months ~
    a scheme which went very well in our town~ I am now looking to go into the high sreet and bringing other creative people in for them to buy selling space within my shop ~ vintagefresh~ also wanting to encourage people to recyle their tired furniture~ having class’es to show them how to do it themselves

    if the council or someone? could create a shared shop for small business’s coming together to sell would really benefit alot and create a sense of community (keeping it local people)
    we do have a lovely town with plenty of room for growth……hers hoping come and see us Mary~ love all your shows and know you could do a great job Harwich & Dovercourt is a great canvas to start with were an Essex town and need you to put the bling back………

  26. Hello Mary,
    I am writing to you to ask that Lancing in West Sussex is considered for regeneration. I grew up there and although I now live in Copenhagen, the majority of my immediate family is still living there and very much a part of the community as residents, consumers, students and as part of the local work force. When I was younger Lancing was never the most exciting place to live and I never could have thought that it could have gotten worse however from recent visits I see that the village has really declined. Most of the shops are empty, where shops were are now blocks of flats. There is nothing inspiring, no decoration and the general condition of the village is very sad and badly maintained.
    I would like my sisters and their families to live in a place that is pleasant, clean, safe and filled with the amenities that it should be. I want them to love where they live and be happy. I want them to have everything the need on their doorstep like it was once.
    Lancing is in a great location. It’s by the sea and the South Downs, there are good rail links to places like Brighton, Worthing and London. There is no reason why Lancing shouldn’t be an attractive commuter village. However it just feels like someone forgot it was there.

    I hope that if you take Lancing on that you can bring it back to life and also set in motion the wheels that will sustain this and see the village grow and prosper as it should.

  27. andrea ballance says:

    I am from Lancing, west Sussex. It is situated between the downs and the beach…between Worthing and Brighton it is placed perfectly to be a beautiful and successful village. For some reason this towns rich and varied history has been looked past and ignored in favour of the neighboring towns. I need my little girl to grow up in a village that is successful, confident, cultured and full of potential. The town is full to the brim of creative, passionate, educated people desperate for thier village to stop being ignored. Recently someone said of lancing…’ Regeneration of lancing would be like polishing a turd’. Red rag to a bull. We are already here already working towards change, we need the extra power that this scheme would bring with it. Please include lancing. We have all the building blocks here ready to go we just need help with a lazy uncreative council and a crippled self image. Me personally…I would live in a Goudi Esq art attraction others would prefer a middle class haven… The reality is we have been neglected for so long we are a blank canvas offering a lot of potential. PLEASE consider us for your scheme.

  28. Amanda Jones says:

    I live in Lancing, West Sussex and think we could really benefit from putting life back into our sadly diminshing high street. We’re the largest village in the country and by making us look and feel better, we’d encourage not only local people but others to visit and spend time and money on small local businesses. The community feel within Lancing is amazing and with a little help and guidance we have the people, enthusiasm, passion and will to make changes and let our village flourish, Please help put us on the map and share our village! Sadly our council have bypassed us again but we’ll not be deterred!

  29. norman sole says:

    Hi Mary and everyone else reading this… Here’s a project I dreamed up some time ago… Thought it was time to share this again… Cheers nOrm x

    How to inject life back into our struggling towns and cities.

    This is just one of the things we discussed at the meeting earlier tonight. Unfortunately this is only a theory at the moment but if we discuss and try to find a common way, then maybe we could make it work.

    I believe there could be two ways for this idea to work :

    Our shopping centres become more like graveyards each day. If we do nothing… the shopping centres will die. We could try a new way.

    Way 1.

    Shop Sharers.

    Let’s say for example, that you are a small producer of wonderfully detailed objects, which take time to develop. You need to produce stock/artwork and also sell stock/artwork.

    Imagine you could have a shop open 7 days a week and still spend most of your time, working on new work. Smaller businesses sometimes don’t need much space. If this sounds like you, read on…

    Imagine only having to pay a 7th of your rent and business rates.

    Imagine having a shop in a main shopping area open 7 days a week but you only have to work one day each week in the shop.

    With “Shop Sharers” you literally share your shop with 6 other tenants. You would hopefully either present as a group or we could team you up with 6 other people that we think would compliment your work.

    You all have an area of the shop to call your own and it’s up to you to keep it stocked and looking good. We need to work on a system where it doesn’t matter who sells what… The profits should be pooled in some way, to encourage your sharers to sell your work too.
    If each sharer helps to sell your work as well as their own, then the scheme could work. This would encourage collaboration and community and 7 heads working all together. If a client walks up to a piece that isn’t yours but they like it… you have to sell it as opposed to trying to sell just your own work.
    For the scheme to work through, we need to work for each other and put our own ambitions to one side and work for the good of the whole group. If the shop succeeds, you all succeed.

    Before you all say “but it’ll never work”… Lets think creatively!

    There has to be some form of agreement to share your trading space and to provide protection for everyone involved in the sharing.

    When you sign up to the scheme there are two conditions (for now) which need to be met.

    Firstly… your deposit.

    6 months of your rent must be deposited and held as security for your fellow shop sharers. Might sound a lot but remember! You only have to raise a 7th of the total cost.

    For instance, you have a major stock failure and cannot trade. Your first three months of rent will be covered, to assist you in recovery. What this means is that your portion of the rent to be paid will be taken from the collected deposits. If you cannot recover your business by the end of the second month of defaulting rent payment, you will be asked to vacate by the end of the 3rd month. If you recover well and your deposit is replenished, you get your three month grace again.

    If not…

    The other 3 months rent is then used to help your fellow shop sharers, to meet the rent and costs, whilst arranging for someone to fill your space.

    You can walk away with minimal loss and your fellow shop sharers lose nothing other than your good company.

    The second condition is fairly simple :

    You must agree to undertake the cleaning and refurbishment of your shop front (hopefully we can arrange some kind of grant scheme to help achieve this). And it’s back to the old fashion days of pride in your shop and it’s appearance. Get on your hands and knees and clean that step.


    Let’s eradicate these dirty, uncared for properties which are destroying our chances of survival and making our environment horrible and foreboding. Everything needs cleaning.

    As part of the scheme we would endeavour to set up complimentary businesses around you, to help foster community spirit and a nature of caring and community. Our business districts need to work as one unit. Everyone works for the greater good of the community and the community works for the greater good of each individual involved.

    We would hope to provide an environment for you to work in and to play in. Somewhere to meet, somewhere to eat and somewhere to share.

    Way 2.

    Live and work. (again only a concept… soz).

    Rent a flat above a shop and get the shop rent FREE! For 6 months.

    There are lots of shops now closed down and the situation aint gonna get better unless we break the mould and introduce a new way.

    Here’s the plan.

    You agree to rent the flat and open the shop. You pay full rent on the flat but the rent for the shop comes with some incentives.

    1st 6 months rent free.

    2nd 6 months 25% rent paid.

    2nd year you pay 50% rent on the shop.

    3rd year you pay 75% rent on the shop.

    By the time you enter your 4th year full rent. The stabilisers come off and you’re on your own. If you aint a success by then, you never will be.

    The benefits to the council and the greater community :

    Shops are filled with new and unique businesses.

    Shop fronts cleaned and restored.

    Responsible people hanging around, meeting, working and playing… greater security, money starts to move and the area rises.

    With people encouraged to live above shop units, again greater security and community and also the spin off of business to surrounding complimentary business such as cafe’s, bars, and other entertainment venues. The night time economy thrives and our shopping areas transformed by the movement of people again, where once they became ghost towns after 5.30 pm.

    If studied I’m sure you would find that it’s better to have people living in our shopping areas even on free or reduced rent. The extra revenue gathered, just from general living and spending, would be almost immediately noticable. The clean up operation would encourage greater security for all and less strain on our police force.

    Encouraging our shopping areas to create a true sense of care, community and safety.

    Eventually after only three years our local economy is jumping again.
    Locals return to a rejuvinated shopping area which encourages creativity and community.
    The council receives full rent from 60% all of its tenants (as some will always be starting on the scheme with free rent for 6 months) and 95% of all properties now have a use and are clean and cared for.

    In effect the council get a load of caretakers for free and a kick started economy and a massive amount of positive publicity.

    Private landlords can also join the scheme but the rules must be the same and any shop front not complying with the clean up should be encouraged (by force of fines, if needed) to clean up.

    These rotting buildings need to be addressed now, they threaten our chances of success.

    Utopia… lovely int eet

  30. Chris D'Santos says:

    I endorse what Frances Smith says about Lancing. I have lived here for twenty years and have seen many different types of shops close down during that period. The town centre is in a catastrophic freefall. Although Lancing is classed as a village it has 20,000 inhabitants most of whom from what I gather do not spend much locally. What money comes into the town goes straight into the pockets of Walmart who moved ASDA into the town to replace the Co-op who moved into the old Somerfield premises as they had bought out Somerfield and there would have been a monopoly if both stayed in the same town. Lancing is an urban sprawl with a very badly laid out shopping centre. Frances has been very busy getting the town team together. I think Lancing as it stands now would make a marvellous role model for other areas if it could successfully regenerate. It is the very poor relation in this part of West Sussex but I’m not sure money is what it needs although it does need it of course. I think it needs belief and inspiration and that the traders need to get that from somewhere. We have 20 empty shops and about 60 – 70 eating establishments of some description. Lancing needs something. Hats off to Frances for taking up the iniative. Lancing really should be in the mix for one of the Pilot bids.

  31. Danny Callaghan says:

    Prescot Town Centre, Knowsley, Merseyside
    Look to the Future | Celebrate the Past

    “People used to say – Liverpool near Prescot – you know” Jim, a proud Prescotian, told me on one of my earlier visits. “…Oh aye – Prescot was a thriving manufacturing and trading town when ‘it’ was still a little fishing village around the tidal pool.”

    Many people believe that Prescot is a sleeping giant and has the potential to become a focus and ‘jewel-in-the-crown’ of the wider Merseyside sub region. It is well placed to provide a new focus for creative and cultural activity that can benefit the wider Merseyside/West Lancashire by complimenting and re-working its inter-relationship with its traditional trading partner – Liverpool.

    Knowsley was created in 1974 by the merger of a number of urban and rural district councils. However the towns and villages that form this place have ancient roots and a rich heritage. It is a Metropolitan Borough of Merseyside, however some communities still retain strong affinities with Lancashire as much as Liverpool. This is reflected in the diverse cultural traditions and identities to be discovered as well as the variety of accents encountered. Local people are proud of their local identity – none more so than Prescotians…

    Prescot’s past is without doubt one of its key strengths as it looks to the future. The history and heritage assets of Knowsley Borough based here are yet to be fully harnessed as a catalyst for encouraging new learning opportunities, employment and economic development. However, this is changing the community and other key partners have begun a voyage of re-discovery and re-presentation. At the heart of this grass roots-led renewal is a pop-up museum on historic Eccleston Street run by local volunteers over the last 18 months.

    Prescot is a rich and diverse place. Its ancient and more recent history is both complex and fascinating. The old town is gaining in confidence. Although the community faces many challenges – there is a palpable sense of local pride and a re-awakening of the ethos and culture that underpins this place – high skills, fine manufacturing and creative entrepreneurship.

    You are welcome to come and have a look. On a bad day it is difficult to see past the end of your nose – on a good day you can see the future!

    • From Bog Mat Supplies, We Along with specializing in Logistical importing & exporting of mats, we cater the wholesale, infrastructure, and also the Construction and Civil Engineering industry.

  32. Kim Mackenzie says:

    Hi there,
    I have a business idea that which is currently getting pieced together. The idea is ctually something that will support this pilot scheme and ties in exactly with what the scheme is about along with what I wish achieve for our local high street. Is there anyway someone could contact me further to discuss? Thank you.

  33. Diggermats says:

    the only way to revive the high street is to roof it and promote it like a shopping centre

  34. [...] The prospectus and application form can be downloaded on the CLG website. More information can also be found on Mary Portas’ site. [...]

  35. Veronica Calderbank says:

    Neston in Wirral Cheshire is a lovely Medieval Market Town near to the river Dee overlooking Wales in the distance. It has a Charter Market on Fridays in front of a new Sainsbury’s store. The competition has forced businesses out and 6 out of 8 shops are empty in one street alone. If someone doesn’t help them soon it will be a ghost town and the market needs a boost and a local team to get it up and running again to be the vibrant town it once was. Please support the formation of a local team there and regenerate Neston

  36. Karen Roach says:

    I would like to nominate the town of Bilston in the West Midlands just outside of Wolverhampton. Bilston has been described by one of its residents as “the best little town in the country”. It has a rich industrial history and a very diverse population. The town has a lot going for it; good transport links; the brilliant new Bert Williams Leisure Centre a new Academy under construction; plenty of Free parking; a market; great community support and a very hard working and inventive Town Centre manager. OK so why do we need help? Bilston was in line for a new Urban village development, it was going to be a complete redesign and refurbishment of the whole town centre and local environment. Unfortunately the money dried up and with the cuts came the end of the Urban village development plan. Now Bilston residents feel it has been completely abandoned and it is worse off than it would have been if the development plan had never been started. Many of the shops are crumbling and the Market is struggling. The Town really just needs a bit of help to get it kick started again.

  37. steph says:

    I Would like to nominate Seaham. Seaham formally seaham habour, is a small town in county durham, situated 6miles (9.7km) south of sunderland, and 13 miles (21km) east of durham.

  38. Umesh says:

    Hi there, i recently became redundant and am looking to start up my own first retail shop. A new central arcade development is being built and completed end of March 2012 in the Leeds city centre. I am looking to purchase one of the Units however i am very worried as this is my first venture and with all the competition around and online boom very unsure if this is the right thing to do.

    I am looking to sell affordable costume jewellery, handbags, crafts, small selection of clothing and innovative gifts. The unit is only 238 square feet but its a good location and would love your help, assisatance in trying to make this work and allowing high street retailers to benefit and grown in this tough environment.

    Many people advise me not to go ahead due to the current climate and competition but i feel i want to help provide a particular type of goods at a very affordable price to the consumers on the high street.

    I hope you can consider me in your new scheme and will look forward to any guidance, advice you have in helping it make a success and thrive.

  39. Steven Rushby says:

    I nominate Redcar in Cleveland. A once bustling seaside resort where the masses flocked for their summer break is now a run down and lifeless place.
    Over run by charity shops and more recently high interest borrowing franchises, the high street is full of virtual shop fronts and a lack of vision. The shop units are all to small to attract big high street retailers, but this for me makes it the perfect place to start a new trend of turning the town into an independent retailer haven – already has the town seen support in the way of investment into a new creative ‘hub’ along with a refurbishment of the seafront. Unfortunately though with a council cabinet run by geriatrics and a population petrified of change it’s time for someone to come along with a daring and revolutionary vision to transform the town.
    I would like to see the town centre, split in two. The pedestrian area becomes an independent retail zone, where artisans, craftsmen and artists are supported initially with subsidised rent to help turn the town into visitor and tourist attraction. This can be supported by the other half of the high street that would be home to bars and restaurants.

  40. Mark Hoyle says:

    I would love to nominate Torquay where on most weekends you will see more people wearing wellington boots and doing their shopping at car boot sales in farmers fields around Torbay than you do in our town’s main shopping streets. A few years ago at one of our community partnership meetings I did suggest that we utilise the top couple of decks of multi storey car parks in the town for car boot sales/markets in order to increase footfall in the town centre and consider dressing empty shop windows with retail displays from town traders and allow residential development of the empty units behind. Car boot sales are full of young budding retail entrepreneurs. To summarise, Disneyland Torquay would be the perfect description of what I feel is required for our town especially since it serves tourists all year round. People spend when they are in a good mood and are being kept entertained.

  41. Andy Daymond says:

    My ideas on the way to work:
    Co-location – copy Westfield group similar business together to create critical mass
    Transport – locate the hub of an integrated public transport system next to the high street plus cheap parking
    Design – focus on heritage, architechture, trees, social hubs; minimise facias. Best high streets are best dressed eg Bath, Oxford
    Policy – force rent reductions for property empty for > 1year; move business/colleges/gyms central to bring customers nearer.
    Technology – loction retail platform allowing stock comparisons, reservation of goods (possible post shopping online retail) & restaurants reservations.
    Food markets with fresh supplied by local & non fresh supllied by virtual supermarket (scan & get delivered)

  42. Sylvia Mason says:

    I would like to nominate Ripley in Derbyshire, Once a thriving market town but due to mis-management by the local council and the ever evident parking meters, the town is dying and to add to the death throes, the council are now planning on instilling a second supermarket on the outskirts of Ripley within 100 yards of the first

    We might stand a chance of stopping some of the local councils proposed builds, 14 x 500+ houses, on greenbelt & greenfield open spaces in this area, but the un-wanted supermarket will be, I fear, the biggest hurdle

    The town, of late, has just started to re-cooperate a little with new ventures taking on some of the small shops in the high street, but we fear the new supermarket will put an end to this recovery and we will once again become a town of charity and fast food shops, any help very much appreciated

  43. I live in Lancing which is the biggest village in the country,It has been totally negleted and let down by its Council,which is Adur District Council. Both of its neighbours Shoreham-by-Sea and Worthing have been regenerated and continue to have money spent on them. Lancing has been turned into a dumping ground.There are in excess of 20 empty shops the parking is just a disaster.At Christmas I have more lights on my Christmas Tree at home than our high Street.It looks like Scrooge lives here.(we are told we cant have more lights as our lamp-post are not strong enough. At the end of november last year I started a petition and called it Lancing Regeneration which now has over 2000 signatures, nobody has stood on the street getting signatures.The petitions have just been left on counters in shops. We so need your help we have formed a committee and various sub-committees.

  44. David Laing says:

    I would like to nominate Redcar in Cleveland. I run a small tourist accomodation property in the area and I, together with others are fighting to help regenerate the town but unfortunately, we are held back with one project, to relocate the weekly market , currently in the High Street,to the pedestrianised area near to the Town Clock but, due to Council beurocracy and red tape, they are reluctant/dont want to move it, it would be a win win situation for all involved, its a perfect place to start this revamp, a good market reinvigorates the town, brings more people in and the town is revived. Im also involved in bringing a real pier to Redcar, the Council cant afford it so we are rouising support in the Community, its called the Redcar Pier Association, we are on Facebook, we aim to get a real pier built in Redcar, the first in the UK since 1957.

  45. Dunstable is a Historic Market Town in Bedfordshire ~ Sadly due to the increase in internet shopping and large out of town shopping malls Dunstable started to feel the effect from this some years ago, causing the High street to fall in to decline. Shops began to close……However after Mary’s visit to our town a few years ago, several support groups started up in Dunstable. About Dunstable is my opportunity with the support of many hundreds to help raise the profile our once great town. We have started to see improvements in our town with a much needed A5 bypass, although this will not be started for a few years it will bring a much needed traffic reduction in our town and an opportunity to bring the ‘shared space’ scheme on to our roads and pavements. Within the last year ‘specialised’ shops have started opening in our town and just recently we had the great news that Dunstable Market was to become managed by Dunstable Town Council all helping to bring the heart back into Dunstable. Dunstable has won Gold in Anglia in Bloom 2010/11 all with the help of the local community and Dunstable Town Council. Dunstable has a very proud community and should we be given the opportunity to have Mary’s support, experience and a share of one million pounds, we could possibly use this to continue to help redevelop and raise the profile of our town even further. More businesses will continue to come back to Dunstable and we will be able to make more much needed improvements. There is a long way to go but we all believe in our great community that we will once again see Dunstable as a beautiful thriving Historic Market Town once again.

  46. Elaine Wardle says:

    I nominate Redcar (pronounced Redka) in Cleveland. It’s a town by the sea
    With a run down High Street that runs parallel to the promenade. Over the years
    it’s so sad to see the number of closed down local business’ and an increase
    In charity shops.

  47. David Brown says:

    Councils and landlords will never have the answers to regenerating the life and soul of a high street.

    To know where we are going, we have to look back at our past. Town centres are is essence permenant markets, the reason why markets grew up in history was that some people specialised in certain products, meat, drink, clothing so used to come to market to sell their products.

    For a healthy thriving town centre we need to focus on feeding the market centres/town centres with products that are made in the local area, that are not readily available on the internet and which people on a daily/weekly basis need.

    None of this is easy unless you can capture a percentage of people who want to buy on a regular basis and who are almost forced to use the high street instead of the internet/superstore.

    One answer would be to create a “town currency” whereby the local currency makes the item appear 50% cheaper than sterling price. The cost initially of creating a “town currency” can be subsidised by the grant.

    Once a local economy is founded, it will self perpetuate and grow into a myriad of variations of sales techniques all based upon the “towns trading currency”.

  48. Councils and landlords definitely need working on to make it much easier for start-up businesses to find somewhere suitable AND cheap to set up in. Either that or drastically re-think the working-from-home rules and rates.

    It would also be great to give local independent companies reduced rents and rates in high street buildings, while hammering the multi-national clone shops to set up there.

    To encourage people to come in from different towns and spend their money, you need to be able to offer something different. If all the high streets in the country all have the same few shops, there’s no reason to ever go to a different town. It’s the Independent shops that give towns their character as much as the architecture of the buildings they inhabit. For far too long our high streets have been dominated by featureless glass-fronted boxes, all selling the same stuff.

    I can sympathies with Alistair Salmon above, I specialise in motorcycle care and valeting and finding a suitable premises locally is almost impossible! There is one building across town that would be absolutely ideal for me and my customers, but it’s been standing empty for years because the rents are too high. It’s absolutely ridiculous that landlords would rather have a building standing empty than drop their rents, what’s wrong with these people??

  49. John oconnor says:

    why not do up an unused unit in the town centre make it a hall were clubs can use it Ie dog kids clubs etc
    Have show there like dog shows cat shows etc I’m in the dog showing world and most clubs struggle to get places to show there dogs if there was somewhere in town they could use the people who show would spend money in the local shops

  50. Why not encourage garages/repair/service centres to move into town centres. There are numerous ghost towns in Cornwall (as an example) and numerous talented technicians struggling to find suitable premises. We have a unit next to a large supermarket chain and when customers leave their vehicle with us they almost have no choice but to head that way.
    Sometimes we have a customer’s car for few hours and sometimes we deal with 10-15 different people a day. Would it not be better to have them wandering around a town – captive audience.
    Unfortunately the motortrade has a bad name which makes such ideas virtually impossible, I know that if my company tried to enhabit one of the many derelict/empty shops in our local town we would be met by unmoveable legislation followed by tutts and shaking heads.
    Perhaps it’s a combination of NIMBY,bureaucray, health and safety, money grabbing councils that’s too strong to break. Also it seems landlords would rather have years of no rent (empty shops) than negotiate reasonable rent rates.
    Dunno, just a thought.

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