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

19,446 Responses to “Bid to become a Portas Pilot”

  1. Brian W says:

    I would like to nominate Lancing for assistance. It suffers from being between two towns that get more support from the local councils, because they are both based in Shoreham and Worthing, and Lancing is used as a dumping ground for the unsociable. There are several independent shops in Lancing and plenty of small empty shops that could help people shop locally rather than go into the nearby towns.

  2. Shirly says:

    I nominate Hatfield… I don’t live there but I live very near by. My grandfather had a classy old fashioned sweet shop there when I was little. Now its a dump. Its supposed to be an inspiring University town, no wonder I moved to Scotland for 3 years to study. Grant Shapps and Mary Portas you must consider HATFIELD

  3. sarah hackett says:

    I would like to suggest Lancing in West Sussex for Mary’s project,

    I have lived there for for 21 years,(my hole life) The village has a azmazing past and hoping with your help we can bring is village back to the lovely village it was! with train station in the middle of high street,bus links,lovely seafront and few pub/hotels .Im sad to walk few the high street to see so many shops empty and boarded up windows the high street is in need of a make-over .we need more clothes,shoes shops,restaurant and less of take-away,charlty,banks and more packing spaces ..
    Its such a shame to see people from lancing prefer to pay and tavel then to shop in their own high street .We are a close village and everyone knows each other and we welcome everyone who comes here with open arms .
    We all LOVE to help put the heart back into Lancing and Lancing back on the map <3 and somewhere for children to grow up and be proud of.

    Thank you for taking your time to read this xxx


  4. jean Young says:

    I wld like to suggest Lancing in West Sussex for Mary’s project, I have lived there for 7 years, but have to travel to a nearby town to work, as I haven’t been able to secure suitable employemnt in Lancing The village is in dire need of some help, as the shopkeepers are struggling against the big boys I always shop locally where I can, but very soon, unless something is done, I won’t be able to

    • David says:

      Oscar Wilde lived in Lancing before it was Chav Town, West Sussex, in fact The Importance of Being Ernest was originally called Lady Lancing. Other claims to fame… we have several fubdamentalist churches that still believe in talking snakes and the worst pubs outside Littlehampton :) x

  5. Lynda says:

    I’d like to say how depressing Kettering’s high street is. There is not a diverse range of shops (unless you call a lot of phone shops and pound shops ‘diverse’). We also have a lot of charity shops here (however I don’t have an issue here as they do a lot of good work). The issue we face is that decent retailers won’t come to this town because the Council charges too high rates and in thre recession, stores closed down and the stores were not re-occupied because of the extortionate rates. What’s worse is that retailers will go to Corby (next town) because the rates are cheaper. We need to bring the high street retailers back to this once thriving shopping high street and encourage people to shop here…….I love shopping and whilst I never thought i’d say this, the internet is becoming more appealing…..(oh yes and Oxford Street as I work in London!!)

  6. Tel Boy says:

    Just and old bloke living in an older town, Chippenham. Once the gateway to the South West via the stagecoach from London then Brunel’s rail line. Chippenham still retains much of its market town character but what lies beneath that is the real beating heart, small businesses and shopkeepers doing their very best but needing a leg up, perhaps showing off their ‘kinky knickers’ for all to see. The entrepreneurial spirit is evident here and to witness it you only have to enter the portals of any of the independent traders. If you open up the gateway town of Chippenham then you open up the whole of the South West. Its main claim to a famous connection is that it is on the doorstep of Lacock Abbey, the home of Fox Talbot and his invention of the negative positive process of photography. Without him we would all be living in the dark and an image less existence. Television and Mary Portas would be no more than staring at a blank wall. Chippenham could be the catalyst for revitalising the vision of an image. An image where hard work and the striving to do good re-evaluates the British spirit.

  7. I opened The Spa – In Lancing in August 2012 as I had lived in Lancing, West Sussex, for about 3 years. We wanted to bring something wonderful to the people of Lancing, bring people back to the high street and promote a quality and professional look for our village. Lancing has been over run with empty shops, brand names and banks, in 6 months we have seen 3 small businesses close. Lancing has a huge potential which is why we decided to open and have provided the high street with a breath of fresh air! However, the high street is in dire need of a make-over or it will continue to scare of potential businesses as well as customers! We have a train station in the middle of the high street, bus links and parking (needing a bit of work), we have the basis of a thriving area, just no help from the council and no real desire to even cosmetically brighten our high street. I have risked my home and personal money to open this business in a place I believe could be what it once was, a busy thriving and wonderful village. Lancing is still the biggest village in England and is in between the sea and the Sussex Downs, providing an excellent basis for tourism. There are B&Bs on the seafront and a few wonderful Pub/Hotels, ready and waiting for customers, will just won’t come if we don’t get some help!
    It is so sad to see businesses closing and empty shops left to rot, bringing down the whole high street. There are currently just over 18,600 people living in the biggest village in England, enough to keep local shops thriving! On a relatively large high street we are missing some of the most essential high street shops! For women…shoes,bags and clothing! I have recently added a small collection of these items at the spa and sell out almost everyday! Residents of Lancing prefer to pay and travel outside Lancing than shop in their own highstreet!
    Residents and shop owners have clubbed together to form “Lancing Regeneration” to try and make the District Council notice us! This fund would be a miracle for Lancing, with many families settling here it would be an amazing opportunity to be able to create somewhere for children to grow up and be proud of.
    Thanks for listening!

  8. Kay says:

    I would like to nominate Crewe/Nantwich there is so many charity shops and empty shops in the town centre its so sad, Crewe used to have Chester Barrie and many more clothing manufacturers were in this area. They have sadly closed and an new B & Q sits on the former factory. I think its about time we prodcued and sold british made products it would help towns and people feel so much better about themselves. I have really enjoyed watching the kinky knickers journey and well done to everyone. Thank you.

  9. margaret says:

    Hi Mary wish you could come to Kirkby in Liverpool as we really need a clothes shop for older ladies ie over 50s as there is nothing at all in the shopping centre, its all for young ones and sizes 8 – 16 we are ready to help any way we can thanks .

  10. Marc lloyd says:

    Altrincham in cheshire needs your help, it was on Sky News as being the worst affected town centre affected by the credit crunch! Empty shops everywhere and the worst part is, is that the area is full of rich people and footballers! We need shops open!

  11. As you all know, who read the post on this fb page Lancing has been refered to as a “turd” by our posh neighbours Shoreham. who have been regenerated with no bother. Our Other neighbour Worthing is having so much spent on it 150million pounds on just one hugh project. Well guess which route has the Olympic Torch going right through the middle of it LANCING. We cant belive it, the Lancing Regeneration Community Group are already getting ideas from the locals excited that something good can come to Lancing. (by the way its not going to Shoreham) WOW!

  12. S Gooderson says:

    Hi Mary, we need your helf, we are a local Pet Shop in Snettisham Norfolk, trying to serve the local community, we would love your imput, Snettisham in the last few years has had had many small businesses close, it would be good to see a thriving village again.

  13. T Brown says:

    Lancing in West Sussex needs your help. Empty shops, run-down appearance and lack of community spirit are driving everyone away to nearby towns to do their shopping. Please help Lancing return to the thriving seaside village we all know it could be…

  14. I offer web retail space to any UK shoe factory that doesn’t use leather. It’s a good market with loyal customers and no need for rapid changes of design. I can suggest upper material and may be able to buy a small batch of footwear. I hope to have a better retail website running soon as I realise that isn’t the greatest as things stand in March 2012!

  15. Neil Connolly says:

    What about High Streets and empty shops as centres for business as well! I run a creative design agency and as well a place for screens and tech, I need a bright airy studio for the creative types. I need a place where they love to work, a place that fuels their creative juices, a place that can also fuel their love of coffee and sticky buns!

    A converted shop would be just perfect.

    Will somebody please explain to greedy landlords that an empty high street shop is not worth crazy money per square foot. We dont want to work on a soul-less industrial estate, or a managed office complex, we want our own space to modify as moods and trends suit us, which can adapt as the business grows and serve as a hub for the freelancers we employ.

    Town Centre is just perfect, except for these landlords that still think their shop space is worth £11/sqft

    • Vivien says:

      Neil your spot on, as a creative person myself I draw inspiration from the cultural diversity a town centre provides. I have 2 great business ideas and find myself being limited by the enormity of rents leaseholds and business rates of an A location shop / workshop. If I could be certain I could pull the right clientele. But then again, where are these potential customers. The towns I live in is divided and poor (Blackburn) and the people who can afford a little exclusiveness do not shop here. Many a great idea failed, a modern and individual furniture shop, the Italian coffee house, high end clothes stores. Only the big store chains can afford to stay, what’s missing is individuality and the people this attracts.

  16. Rose Helm says:

    Hi I live in a beautiful part of the world Whitby in North Yorkshire. Whitby relies heavily on tourism, and is very successful, give or take the odd ressession. Living in Whitby regarding shops, we don’t have any big department stores, a couple of mid sized chains, other than that small individual shops, and many charity shops. Many of the privately owned shops struggle to survive others go from strength to strength. As an ex self employed shop owner, and ex store Manager for a mid sized chain I am now retired/ self employed. Knowing the struggles involved for small businesses I have now started myself as an emergency staffing person (just me) Ring a Ring a Rosy. Shops who need one day cover for sickness, hols or any other reason give me a call and off I go. I charge minimum rates, pay my own tax, they don’t need to thin k about holidays etc. Works great, I know the retailing business need minimum training, so no costs to shops. They don’t need to employ excess staff. This all helps small shops keep their heads above water through difficult times, I would like more people to think how to help the existing shops to continue trading with small ideas as I have done. The government where would they come in, I am retired on my pension, I still have to pay tax on whatever I earn, a scheme could be to reduce tax for anyone who contributes to the high street economy. Simplicity and common sense can sometimes be the answer to failing economies.
    Good luck to all we need our high streets and more importantly our talented people to pass on skills.

  17. andrea says:

    How can I get involved? iI will bring it to the attention (if they not already aware) of our community governors and stakeholders as much as I can. Does Mary have a jobsite associated with any of her projects?

  18. Clare Mackenzie says:

    Such a shame that it has come to this; that we are having to rely on the efforts of a celebrity (albeit an incredibly smart, attractive and talented one) to kick start the rejuvenation of our high streets. It didn’t take a crystal ball to see that this would be the likely outcome as a result of implementing/increasing parking charges in villages, planning permission being given to innumerable out of town stores and a general lack of concern for the smaller business person trying to make an honest penny. Shame on you local councils for allowing high streets to get in this mess in the first place.

  19. If there are 300 plus High Streets needing help, we must also tell our elected politicians, what help we need and expect from them.That is a change in the law so that Councils can charge absent Landlords rates on empty shops.Also stop the tax relief on these boarded up left to rot shops that are killing our High Streets all over the Country. The Communities and Mary can not save them on our own we need HMG support.Mail me if you agree on fb Lancing Regeneration and we can do it together. Frances

    • Finbill says:

      Hi Frances,

      As you rightly say, this should be much higher in the view of both our elected, & employed public servants & it is a sad abdication of trust that these supposedly professional TCM’s Town Planers, Regeneration & Economic managers & politician’s are allowed to preside over the total desimation of the history of many, many community’s whilst at the end of each month being in the most part well recompensed.

      It should be telling HMG that to have in excess of 350 groups hoping to have access to pocket change to help us change & save what some consider the very fabric of our local lives, & that we will enter into some sort of Britains got talent debasment, in the hope that some unelected but high profile celeb will select & work with these chosen few is a sad indictment of the real value put on our high streets by the establishment.

      I hope Lansing is selected as you seem to have really engaged & involved the local community as best you can judging by the number of contribution’s made here on lansings behalf, & if it is a public vote you have mine.

      Also Dave what’s the Idea we all want to know & Ian you have the Olympics to build from.



      • Thank you, Since I opened my eyes in Lancing it has made me look at other towns and villages, it is all so scary.It is like a spreading disease with a little know cure.If HMG changed the law to allow councils to charge rates on the empty shops, I am sure it would encourage Landords to let their properties and keep them in good order.Instead of allowing our high streets to reflect the low down quality of the absent Landlord. frances

  20. I am based in Poole Dorset. Adorable area of UK. Unfortunately high street is completly death. Poole is facing terrible unemployment situation as Local factories and Business Closed down .
    With Sandbancks so close to town and close to most faboualous summer destinations Poole can not offer a place where families , teenagers and elderly people could go not just only to do their shopping.

  21. Polly Mackenzie Bogie says:

    I live in Fife. It’s had its fair share of knocks and success in its town centres but one town particularly would be such a an ideal candidate for Mary’s magic wand. Leven is a seaside town which has high unemployment and one of the cheapest places to buy a property in Scotland, for the wrong reasons. It once was a bustling seaside resort in the ’50s and ’60s for people, especially who came from the west of Scotland for their annual ‘Fair’ holiday with indoor amusement arcades on the promenade and a lovely beach.

    The town centre has a pedestrianised high street which has many shops now closed, When Woolworths closed, it only added to its depressed state. The charity shops still do a good business. The people of Leven are very proud, and are the salt of the earth and deserve an opportunity to shine. The high unemployment n the area doesn’t help the situation. People migrate to the bigger conurbations in the region for their non food shopping. Leven beach also was the backdrop for artist Jack Vettriano’s now iconic picture The Singing Butler. Another of his from the beach, Long Time Gone has the Methil Power Station in the background. It also has gone. I am sure that Jack would be an ideal ambassador to this project. It needs an injection of love and hope and deserves consideration.

  22. [...] The government is on the hunt for 12 towns with innovative ideas on how to revive our ailing high streets. [...]

  23. [...] The government is on the hunt for 12 towns with innovative ideas on how to revive our ailing high streets. [...]

  24. M Walkinfron says:

    I live near the capital of the Wolds in East Yorkshire once a thriving area with army barracks and lots of industrial manufacturers, we also had a successful clothing manufacturer who made clothes for marks and spencer’s and was a large employer, unfortunately they have all left leaving a community with no employment chances even our job centre left a few years ago. People are being left behind in the job market as demand for outstrips jobs. we are lucky if there is a job advertised each week as outside neighbour towns see people as unreliable to work in their towns unless you have a car, ALTHOUGH there are transport communications between then, unless your drive you are seen as un-hireable and unreliable. A simple three mile journey is three pound and to the next is seven pound making it hard to survive. There’s hundreds of youngsters and mature people who are dying to work but not business being attracted back to the area. Shops open and close on the high-street, daily and investment needs to be made to allow people to start new small business and bring custom back to the town, this is never going to happen without investment and schemes to help young entrepreneurs like myself who would like to try create business and jobs but with the climate now banks are unwilling to invest and there are not schemes for investment in mature. Disable people wanting to work. Everything is geared to youngsters.

  25. Lynda says:

    Portland Road, between Postslade and Hove, some great local shops and the usual rubbish, pockets of inspiration but lacks heart, could be amazing and plenty of potential for growth. Local families just don’t support it and would rather go into Brighton. Huge opportunity. Take a look

    • Soapy Sam says:

      Lynda, I have a shop at the Portslade end of Portland road and you are spot on. Portland road is regarded as a thoroughfare, not a shopping destinantion. We are in a parade of 5 shops, handmade bath and body shop, beauty and wellness spa, antique shop, ladies clothes shop and barbers. We personally are manufacturers and we desperately need more space but the barriers seem too huge to scale. We supply as far afield as Macau, Hong Kong and Canada, so why can’t the local council show some love!! We didn’t even get Christmas decorations and Boundary Road is littered with charity shops, fast food and £1 shops :( :( I am very proud of my shop and my neighbouring business owners, WE bring the love to the high street and I like to think we do it with style :D

  26. jeanmarie smith horwath says:

    Mary Portas and her Super Team: I’m from the original Joe Boxer in the U.S. and have been in wholesale and retail apparel my entire career path.

    Check out THe Americana and The Grove in Los Angeles county. Its all about the facades. Make up facade-esque streets. Even here in Nottingham the street I like the best, to shop on, is the one that has the best facades-White Stuff, Hobbs, Ted Baker or Paul Smith. ANd its not about the “high street” price tags its because the area looks better than the mall or the town centre. Romance the buildings and the streets even if the retailer itself is a Subway or Primark create the magic on the outside…

  27. Dave Rollo says:

    I don’t honestly know who reads this but I did so hey I’ll post a query. I’ve heard about the Mary portas scheme to revive business in towns and I honestly and whole heartedly have a detailed plan of how I can make this possible for every town and without touching the £1,000,000 I’m not asking for money I just want to talk to someone about it because people have a pre conceived idea that because I’m not in the business of coming up with groundbreaking ideas that someone would have thought about it already but to the best of my knowledge no one has. I want to speak to Mary portas and for her in turn to speak to my council and get this moving because the idea I have is directly transferrable to every town and the concept works because it stares us in the face everyday. Please please please can someone talk to me about this because I’m banging my head against a brick wall trying to explain this to business startup sites who are either faceless call centres trying to steal your money or mindless drones in a call centre who bin every good idea because I don’t fall into a geographical demographic. Mary if your out there and you read this then I guarantee that if your not impressed by what I’ve got to say I’ll run a marathon for a charity of your choice.

    • Dave
      My name is Frances Smith and I am chair of Lancing Regeneration Community Group, which has grown from a rant in Nov2011.Into a 2000 signature being delivered and debated to a full District Council Meeting;- We the undersigned petition the Council to commit the necessary Council resources tp promote the regeneration of Lancing Village Centre and to make funds urgently available for the regeneration of Lancing village. This will be approved by the council on the 19th. of April. I am replying to your posting on the MPP page because we will listen to you, if you have such a good idea let Lancing run with it.We will do every thing we can to stop the decline of our village. So if you have the vision to see what we have all missed please please share it.

    • Ian Doyle says:

      Hi Dave
      Your post has intrigued me. I am the Economic Regeneration Manager for Weymouth and Portland and West Dorset. Weymouth recently received some bad publicity. Some of which was unfair, some of which was fair. I will listen


    • Kelly says:

      Hello David. We are a small business in Aldershot Hampshire, we have been in business for 27 years and we are in a town which needs help. We would be intrigued to hear your idea’s as we have connections to people/groups who may be able to help.

  28. Brownie says:

    Lancing in West Sussex urgently needs to have some money spent on it. It is a lovely village in West Sussex nestled between the sea and the South Downs with a rich rural heritage. It has been allowed to decline over the years now full of empty, boarded shops, run down exteriors and has no incentive to want to spend time there. We have a lovely parish hall for community events and the beach is frequented by kite-surfers, but there is no reason for them to spend time in the village itself. Please help the loyal residents of Lancing to restore the village to a place where people want to belong.

  29. Victoria says:

    Lancing in West Sussex!!!!

  30. Victoria says:

    I live in Lancing in East Sussex and would love to see what the Pilot could do for our village. I moved here a couple of years ago from Brighton – just 8 miles up the coast but you’d think I’d moved to Mars for all the responses I got from my Brighton friends – cringing at the idea of this post-apocalyptic non-destination. It is a village too easily bypassed by roads to the north (skimming the beautiful South Downs) and south (along the seafront) of the main shopping area in fact I didn’t know a village ‘high street’ existed until I moved here. However the shops – those that have managed to remain open leave so much to be desired. Most people I know will not shop in Lancing as the choice and parking opportunities do not exist. The shops tend to target the older residents and young parents without transport, so the high street has mobility scooters fighting for space with pushchairs. Many residents I know moved to Lancing for affordable housing but have no other incentive to spend any more of their income here and they do have money to spend. However once you’ve delved a little, you meet all these wonderful people just itching for change and they’re full of community spirit and love. We don’t want to leave Lancing, we want to love Lancing – our wee, neglected village full of banks, charity shops and boarded up windows and we want to bring our children up to stay here, not move away to somewhere more interesting. So please help Lancing become what it deserves to be – a vibrant seaside village with a thriving High Street to match the enthusiasm of all the truly wonderful locals.

  31. Finbill says:

    Many intresting and mostly well intentioned observations on this very difficult situation, most old style highstreets were built & existed to serve the local commuinty, the local commuinty are now happy with supporting the major retailers who supply, with the support of most local authoritys clean safe & convenient places to spend most of a reducing pot of money, untill the contradiction of the government congratulating major retailers every time they promise to absorb every local corner shop & they draw a line in the sand we will continue to see the demise of the high street as a retail destination, So a vision is needed to revitalise areas that are falling into decline, those who propose arts & crafts as a possible use of buildings, sorry but mostly these are hobbys, but if the Major retailers paid those craftsmen (& the landlords) to occupy empty units we may then see busy highstreets, that then may prove that products being produced become successful & are then taken on as mass sellers through the major retailer (partner) or we just accept we have an affordable housing issue, so a large number where possible are turned into starter accomodation by the local authority, which can’t be purchased as buy to let, or any scheme that means profit comes before use, ie leaving units empty to inflate rents, reintroduce people, & who knows.

    What we all need to do if possible is support small local traders if financially possible, but artisan bread @ £2.50 or major chain £0.85 sadly we know who may miss out.

  32. Carlton Waghorn says:

    Hi, I have read on the front of my local newspaper that Crowborough in East Sussex has put in a nomination to completely pedestrianise the High Street in order to breathe new life into it. Perhaps a reduction in rates would provide more interest in the High Street. As present we have plenty of banks, building societys and estate agents. There are very few empty premises.

    The artists impressions look great with people meandering about looking at market stalls. In essence these proposals with blight already congested local residential areas with diverted traffic from the town. Busses, lorries and cars will go past schools and beautiful village greens where a nursery school and large community church exist. A great proportion of traffic will be diverted down a traffic calmed residential street with speed bumps.

    Traffic calming – a long forgotten topic of the 90′s.

    Let’s build on lesson learned from previous decades rather that destroying them. I have nothing against those trying to rejuvenate high streets but not at the expense of local residents.

    I will be starting a local campaign and have sent a letter to my MP. I hope to get in shot with my placard whilst you make your TV programme should Crowborough create a winning bid!

  33. Steve says:

    Our “Team” (the Council on its own) has come up with the great idea of having flowers in baskets for Britain in Bloom and having Christmas trees in all shops (in December of course) as the solution to our problems and also the reason for our town to be one of the 12 receiving the Portas funding. Meanwhile they have introduced parking charges for the disabled. Should I be holding my breath in anticipation?

  34. Fiona Foliadis says:

    Could this be a good scheme to pilot ? Read on…

    Traditionally markets ( and in more modern times, High Streets) were places where people brought their wares to buy and sell. It is in the return to this basic principle that I feel the solution to the High Street problem lies.
    Everyone is good at making something, be it baking, jewelry-making, knitting, sewing, planting, drawing,etc and would love to earn some ‘pocket-money’ from their hobby. To sell on the internet is like advertising a needle in a hay-stack .To hire a ‘market stall’ would require quite a bit of stock and lots of people lack the confidence to get their idea off the drawing board .

    What is needed is a High Street shop for these type of people where they can take their goods, place it on a shelf and if it sells, get compensated. Those who develop good products that sell well can then get the right guidance and help in sourcing materials, becoming cost effective and perhaps obtaining a small business loan to turn their ware into a little business.

    This High Street shop should have a uniform brand identity on each High Street (Mary’s expertise in this would help): For example you can call them, ” Hand-made with love in…….Shenfield, Harlow, Potter’s Bar etc.” ( depending on the High Street)
    They should all have a similar layout and branding . The layout could be similar to that of a farm-shop. With painted crockery, home-made jams, home-baked goods, hand-made jewelry, home-grown vegetables, hand-made bags, cards, toys, quilts, blankets, the list is endless. Within the shop should be a small coffee-shop provision where cakes and scones (again home-made) can be individually sold. There could also be branded packaging where the hand-made goods can be placed in on purchase which could lift the appearance of the home-made object and help it compete with products in established stores.

    I feel this would inspire a lot of people, be it mothers, teenagers, retired people or people looking for work to give it a go. To go to the High Street, for inspiration, for a quirky gift or more importantly to see if they too can make some money from the High Street.

    Of course, there are a lot of rules and regulations that need to be set out ( specially for the home- baked goods), but it is not impossible. It would require investment but can easily be turned into a profitable business venture for each local authority. I have thought through this model quite carefully and am quite happy to discuss it further with anyone who would be interested.

    • Alison says:

      Hi Fiona I totally agree with you ,this would not only help the budding retailers and designers with an opportunity to sell their products but also the experienced members of the community can share their skills with the younger generation.The idea of a Mini Co operative I feel would work well and maybe collaborations with independent local retailers. I know this would bring people into our town and unite the community to take an active interest in what happens there.We( Epping)are currently in a ‘consultation period’ for the town regeneration and we need to get it right for the long term not just now. Mary would not be happy with some of the proposals and short time we have to decide on our towns future 3 weeks! surely something as important as the future of Our High Street warrants more than that!!

      • Fiona Foliadis says:

        Hi Alison
        Thanks for your reply. You are right , three weeks and £100 000 is not a lot of time and money to regenerate the high streets. I think some of the successful bids will be those that have one central focus. This idea alone will need that sum just to get it off the ground. I am also in Essex , I am quite happy to get in touch and discuss this further with Epping committee, should they wish me to. I don’t need to be a part of it but I feel very passionately about it and would love to see it work.

    • vivien says:

      Hi Fiona, there is an internet shop called ‘Not op the high-street’. Initially I thought they promoted this same principle, but after contacting them to sell my hand made jewellery through them I was rejected because I wasn’t a business? I have tried to sell my stuff online but can’t compete with the volume of listings and prices. So yes a store like you suggest might be a good idea, hessiation,… the idea people have about the value of their products is not always realistic.

  35. Natalie Penzer says:

    Please consider Crewkerne in South Somerset – it stands not far from the coast at Lyme Regis and is so different in outlook not just from the lack of the sea. It’s needs a jolly good push at putting it on the map as pretty market town seeped in history. There’s an underlying positive current that keeps trying to succeed in making this town like Sherborne etc but it just doesn’t seem to get there. Yet the amount of traffic through the place as many folk pass through on their way to the coast and further south. It thrives in charity shops, um charity shops and yes, more charity shops. Please bring it into its prime – it would be fantastic for it to be remodelled as a fab, shabby chic country market town and for the current shop keepers there to earn the recognisation at how hard they are working to try and achieve this. It just requires a touch of your magic Mary! ; )

  36. DONNA FINN says:

    I would like to nominate Hessle Road, Kingston Upon Hull. I know its not a city centre shopping area but it is a famous road. The road was once a village within a town, it was where the Hull fishing industry thrived. The present traders what is left of us are desperate to get the road back on track. The parking is pracically non existant unless you shop at Asda or in a small retail park, where the exits and entrances are a joke, single, one road affair, which causes traffic jams all day long. This needs adressing as it is a danger and shoppers are now avoiding the area. Over 20 years ago they meaning the council, closed off 3 roads when they demolished and raped the road of houses, these roads have never been opened up again, trhe council says its because the want to prevent lorries using he side roads where residents are?
    Ok I get that, but there haven’t been any residents on the South side for over 20 years!
    If you can’t help us then could you give me some guidance and I will try and deal with this situation which is becoming Urgent as soon there will be no shoppers, no traders, no Hessle Road.

  37. Christalla says:

    Hi Mary, come check out St. Neots! Moved here two years ago from gorgeous North of the London. Been looking for a house to buy for three long years and here we reside. This little town has so much patenial; lick of paint, splash of inspiration AND THE MARY PORTOS EXPERIENCE would bring this wonderful little place the place to be reckoned with. We are a stones throw from Cambridge City but it seems a completely different planet. St. Neots has been ‘ear marked’ for the biggest development this side of the south (mostly accomodation development). Up and coming generations need more than charity shops, hairdressers and a historic market sqaure turned into a car park…(who’s idea was that?). We need something something. Mary please come and seeus, for sure your creative juices will be spilling all over the place. Many thanks, love and peace Christalla :O) x

  38. Sally minns says:

    come on hull ….. If there was ever a time to pull out all the stops it’s now. Hull needs bringing back to life PLEASE

  39. samantha says:

    Mary please,please,PLEASE help out Tiverton town,mid devon.The sight of all the hollow skeleton shops scattered up and down our pretty little highstreet (now including a big gap where Peacocks was RIP)is rapdily morphing into an ugly blank space,littered only with tumbleweeds…the only highlight of our highstreet is the recent arrival of Costa Coffee.Which baffles me?Why continue to roll out numerous cafes,and shut down all our clothes shops (Peacocks-gone.Tradesecret-going soon.Newlook is suffering too,).Coffee and clothes are a duo,hardly anyone pops into to town to enjoy one without the other.Tiverton town is (I believe) heading for melt down:the decline has developed at such a pace,it’s hard to digest and it’s a depressing drag to observe on a daily basis too.For example today when running some errands,I spent one hour in town and it almost sent me on a fucking downer.No amounts of Costa Coffee were enough to drown my sorrows
    …So please Portas help pull this pretty place together and prevent our highstreet from becoming a display of greasy kebab bars!

  40. Excellent article here. Clap Clap… =p

  41. I went on the no.10 e-petition site to to start a e-petition to get a change in the law, but found one there already ;-” to allow council to charge Landords for rates on empty shops ” please go on the site and sign it I have put it on Lancing Regeneration fbpage asking people to sign it and share it, ‘ It is totally mental that landlords can get tax relief and not pay rates on empty shops.While our High Street are full of boarded up shops.

  42. [...] Portas Pilot scheme includes town teams, the encouragement of affordable car parking and greater community input. [...]

  43. Helen says:

    I, like many others, think that Lancing has such huge potential. It is in a great location nestled between the sea and the South Downs and is only 10 miles from Brighton. The neighbouring town of Shoreham-by Sea has really benefited from the regeneration that has gone on there and Lancing is so run down and disheveled in comparison. It really does deserve better!

  44. Alex Geddes says:

    I see to apply we need strong leadership from elected members etc but the problem is that is why our town has collapsed. No strong leadership, lack of vision and no imagination to try something new like applying for this. However, there is a strong community reaction to this and a group aiming to get things moving forward with passion and determination. Would such a group be considered as we feel we are looking to do something positive and unique and will make positive change. Well can we form an action group and apply ?

  45. ground rents says:

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  46. Rory Scullion says:

    Am I right in saying that only towns from England can apply? Is this application process available to towns from other regions in the UK? Thanks

    • Luis says:

      Hi, it seems England. Scotland has a huge advantage already with strong Town Regeneration Schemes, better BID legislation. I am wondering why we need to pilot things which are somewhere else already successful proven. So, don’t be disappointed just check – usually all other are ahead. This was different a couple of years ago but it’s very English to get lost in time… and not to look over fence what others are doing better.

  47. Luis says:

    Hi, I am wondering about all comments on this page. Is nobody asking if £100′k can make the dramatic difference everybody is asking for? If this would be the case – our towns would be prosper and sparkling like diamonds already. Mary Portas report highlights issues – mostly STRUCTURAL issues. We need change e.g. how our high streets are governed by councils, planning, landlords. I could write long and in depth about my experiences as town manager and beg too that ‘my’ town becomes a pilot too. I am only asking if this would help me to improve ‘my’ town – what I need is a government looking into details as written in Mary’s report – and makes changes! I agree that on ‘local level’ town teams are needed but what is about ATCM, Town Management Organisations and BIDs. Sorry to say, I believe that a couple of people in government are really smiling by giving a carot that towns compete instead joining up and banging on doors requesting change. We had to turn down new businesses because planning restrictions required us to do so – would this change if we would be a pilot? I have more questions than answers here, sorry. Perhaps this forum / comments could go into a new direction – asking if this scheme is fair, sustainable and the right answer at this time. Have continued success with your business – my best wishes to all of us on High Streets! – P.S> Lancing, don’t forget to submit your application!

    • Victoria says:

      Luis – I am supporting the Lancing bid and believe me – we had formed a campaign group for change before we heard about the Mary Portas bid. If we are one of the winning bids then I hope that the momentum of interest will further embarrass and highlight to our local council(s) what a state they have allowed our village to get into. There is already a catalyst of change and this will be another string to our bow…

  48. Dear Amanda

    I wanted to write to you, I was one of the first people to write about the neglected state of our village which is Lancing in Sussex. I thought and still do that our village would change if we won one of MPP. But I have been reading the state of other villages and towns, I noticed that everyone of the comments is a cry for help, And we are all finding it difficult and impossible to get anybody to listen or care. I think maybe we could all join together maybe over the internet or all petitioning the Prime Minister and MP and may be then somebody will have to listen and make a difference after all in my village alone there is 20,000 people so if you add up the number of people living with empty shops and run down centres we would speak for a lot of people in our communities.. Kind regards Frances Smith

  49. Amanda says:

    I have a small therapy business in the town of Consett, every day I walk through the town centre to the depressing site of boarded up shops that were once thriving businesses, the town is now full of charity shops and bookies . The rent and rates for the empty shops are astronomical and no new business would be able to afford it. I contacted my local MP who just says ‘ yes it’s a shame ‘ but no one wants to tackle it and before long our town centre will disappear, this town has been through many trials especially the closer of the steel works in the 80s but it picked itself up and thrived . Our local councillors are just interested in building a new shopping centre where the steel works used to be and forget about our already existing town centre . I have knocked on many doors and emailed and asked many people who hold the future of this own but have come to brick wall as I watch this town centre disappear .

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