Retail Trade: Urban Areas

Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy written question – answered on 27th November 2018.

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Photo of David Simpson David Simpson Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs), Shadow DUP Spokesperson (Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps his Department is taking to support high street retailers increase footfall.

Photo of Kelly Tolhurst Kelly Tolhurst Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy)

This Department is clear that we want all types of retail to thrive now and in the future, and wants to support the sector as it responds to change. This is why in March we established the industry led Retail Sector Council to bring Government and industry together to boost the sector’s productivity and promote its future.

In addition, in Autumn budget 2018, we announced a number of measures as part of an Action Plan, led by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) to support the sustainable transformation of our high streets. This plan includes:

  • A £675m Future High Streets Fund, to support local areas in England to invest in town centre infrastructure, including to increase access to high streets and support redevelopment and densification around high streets. The Fund will also support the regeneration of heritage high streets (up to £55m of the overall Fund). MHCLG has published a fact sheet setting out more details about the Fund
  • Supporting local leadership with a High Streets Taskforce, giving high streets and town centres expert advice to adapt and thrive. This will provide hands-on support to local areas to develop data-driven innovative strategies and connect local areas to relevant experts
  • A planning consultation to help support change on the high street. This will aim to make it easier for high streets to adapt for the future, with a wider range of retail, residential and other uses. A second consultation will be published in 2019, including how to support the more effective use of tools such as Compulsory Purchase Orders and Local Development Orders
  • Piloting a register of empty commercial properties to support wider regeneration of our high streets and town centres
  • Launching an ‘Open Doors’ pilot in five town centres to bring empty properties back into use by matching landlords of vacant premises with local community groups looking for space.

This Action plan is in addition to existing measures including:

  • An expert panel chaired by Sir John Timpson, whose recommendations informed the budget package. The panel are drawing on existing evidence and their own experiences to investigate the challenges facing our high streets and town centres and to advise on the best practical measures to help them thrive now and in the future. We look forward to receiving their full recommendations.
  • The Future High Street Forum, chaired by the Minister for High Streets. The Forum consists of developers, investors and retailers. It provides joint business and government leadership to better enable our high streets and town centres to adapt and compete in the face of changing consumer and social trends.
  • Government support for Business Improvement Districts, recognising the important role they play in allowing local businesses to work together to shape and improve their high streets and towns.

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