Shapps launches high street pilot scheme

A competition to find 12 areas to pilot a strategy for improving the economic vitality of England's high streets has been launched by the local government minister.

Grant Shapps said that he is seeking 12 towns to trial recommendations contained in TV retail guru Mary Portas’ review of town centre policy, published before Christmas, including her suggestion that areas set up ‘Town Teams’ to take a lead on high street strategy.

The Portas review recommended that teams should be made up of a mixture of landlords, small and large retailers and local politicians.

The minister said that he is asking towns to come up with strategies to improve the economic vitality and attractiveness of their town centres. The winning 12 towns will receive a share of £1 million to help implement their ideas, he added.

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 away and so for our high streets to survive they need to offer something new and exciting."

The Department for Communities and Local Government said that it was seeking a wide variety of different types of area to pilot the strategy, including areas with both high and low average incomes and high and low shop vacancy rates.

It said that a full response to the Portas review would be announced by the department before the spring.

See here for more details on Shapps' announcement.

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