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Government response to the Portas review

The much anticipated government response to the highstreet review undertaken by Mary Portas was published at the end of March. The key issues addressed in the widely supportive government response "High Streets at the Heart of our Communities" are:

  • The 12 current pilot "Town Team" or "Portas'Pilots"will be expanded to 24. The pilot teams will be made up of landlords, tenants,businesses and residents, encouraged to provide "visionary, strategic and strong operational management teams for high streets".
  • The launch of a £10 million "High Street Innovation Fund" to support local authorities in efforts to improve the look of high streets and address issues such as empty shops.
  • The launch of a £1 million "Future High Street XFund" which will be awarded in a year's time to the locations which deliver the most creative and effective schemes to revitalise their high streets
  • The introduction of a "National Market Day" and "Love Your Market" fortnight to celebrate the role markets can play, help aspiring entrepreneurs try out their business ideas, and encourage more visitors to town centres.
  • A £500,000 investment to ensure that prospective new Business Improvement Districts can access loans to support their set-up.

The Portas Review and the government's response, have generally been well received and have brought the plight of our town centres to everyone's attention. But it will be interesting to see if the initiative can be maintained, particularly as many of the recommendations are 'blue sky' ideas that may be difficult to implement without significant investment.

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