BBPA welcomes Mary Queen of Shops Review

By Gurjit Degun

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Business improvement district Local government

BBPA welcomes Mary Queen of Shops Review
The British Beer and Pub Association (BBPA) has welcomed proposals to improve high streets and has called for the government to put the plans “higher up the political agenda”.

The Mary Portas Review of Britain’s High Streets sets out recommendations to free up the high street from constraint such as red tape, to level the playing field between high streets and out-of-town centres and to introduce a more flexible planning system.

The recommendations are:
- Get town-centres running like businesses: strengthen the management of high streets through new ‘Town Teams’, develop the Business Improvement District model;

- Get the basics right to allow businesses to flourish: look at how the business rate system could better support small businesses, remove red tape on the high street;

- Level the playing field: ensure a strong town-centre first approach in planning and encourage large retailers to show their support for high streets;

- Define landlords’ roles and responsibilities: look at disincentives for landlords leaving properties vacant and empower local authorities to step in when landlords are negligent;

- Give communities a greater say: by greater inclusion of the high street in neighbourhood planning and encouraging innovative community uses of empty high street spaces.

BBPA chief executive Brigid Simmonds said: “There are some good ideas that would help pubs – we certainly need action on punitive business rates, and a more flexible planning system to help pubs to be part of a high street revival. I am pleased to see an enhanced role proposed for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), something we have championed at the BBPA.

“We need more flexibility in the use-class orders, looking at amalgamating the leisure classes and greater flexibility between C1 (hotels) and C3 (dwelling houses).

“I hope the Government responds positively to these proposals, as Mary Portas deserves to succeed in putting the high street higher up the political agenda.”

Kate Nicholls, Association of Licenced Multiple Retailers strategic affairs director, also welcomed the move. She said: “In particular, we welcome the recommendation to look at the ‘Use Class’ system and step up the focus on Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). Looking at the concept of ‘community wellbeing’ in the future make-up of high streets is also one championed by the ALMR.

Portas added: “Our high streets can be lively, dynamic, exciting and social places that give a sense of belonging and trust to a community. Something which, as the recent riots clearly demonstrated, has been eroded and in some instances eradicated.

“I fundamentally believe that once we invest in and create social capital in the heart of our communities, the economic capital will follow.

“Those who see high streets purely in commercial terms need a reality check, because, without the engagement and collaboration of local people many high streets will die and retailers, landlords and local authorities alike will see their investment wasted.

“This review sets out what I think has led to the decline of our high streets, my vision of the future and the key things I believe we need to put in place to deliver that vision.

“I hope that my recommendations can be a catalyst for change but high streets must be ready to experiment, try new things, take risks and become destinations again.”

The review has also been well-received by the British Retail Consortium, the British Property Federation and the Federation of Small Businesses.

The Government will respond to the recommendations in the spring.

Related topics Property law

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