Local shops have welcomed the Government review of the high street and the appointment of Mary Portas as an independent advisor to lead the project.
ACS chief executive James Lowman, who is attending today’s High Street summit at the Department for Business, said: “Local shops and high streets matter to consumers who use the health of the high street as a barometer for the economy as a whole. Healthy, diverse high streets mean confident consumers, and vibrant local shopping holds the key to economic growth and job creation. We welcome this independent review to address the tough questions about how to put high streets at the heart of recovery.
“We will be urging the Government not to shy away from the controversial issues and to put in place a strategy that will robustly promote the high street at a crucial time.
“We need robust decisions on national planning rules that are explicitly ‘town centre first’ preventing harmful out of town development, we need an approach to business rates that encourages retailers to invest in high streets and neighbourhood centres and we must promote diversity so that consumers have real choice now and in the long term.”
The Summit takes place on a day when MPs are debating crucial clauses in the Localism Bill and in particular amendments that would empower communities to take control of their high streets. The amendment promoted by Labour front bench spokesman Jack Dromey MP would require all councils to produce, in consultation with communities, a retail diversity scheme as part of their local plan.
Lowman said: “The Government’s commitment to high streets faces an early test, supporting the retail diversity amendment would be a major step towards securing the future of choice on the high street. We urge them to take it.”