ACS Welcomes New Government Inquiry on Future of High Streets

ACS has welcomed the launch of a new inquiry led by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee on the future of UK high streets and town centres.

The inquiry will examine the future role of the high street in contributing to the local economy and the health, cohesion and cultural life of the local community. It will also look at how local areas are planning for the future of their high streets and town centres and creating the conditions to sustain them in the coming years.

ACS chief executive James Lowman said: “This is a timely inquiry because high streets and the businesses trading in these areas are experiencing significant change. There can be a positive future for high streets and local parades, but they will need support from central and local Government to reduce operating costs and ensure planning and taxation policy help them to adapt to meet the needs of the modern consumer.”

The HCLG Committee’s inquiry states that it is likely to examine the legacy of the Government’s previous work on the high street, including the Portas Pilots, the Future High Streets Forum and the Great British High Street. ACS is part of the Government’s Future High Streets Forum, as well as being involved in the new Retail Sector Council launched by retail minister Andrew Griffiths MP in March of this year.

As part of its ongoing work on high street issues, ACS has this week submitted evidence to the MHCLG consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework, outlining support for a strong ‘town centre first’ policy and calling on the Government to ensure that local shops, especially those that offer essential services like access to cash and banking services, are recognised and promoted in the planning system. 

Mr Lowman said: “Convenience stores operating on high streets and in town and city centres are not only key contributors to the local economy, but are also taking on essential services at a time when other specialist outlets like banks are closing. The contribution of convenience stores that provide banking services and access to cash for local people should be explicitly recognised in the National Planning Policy Framework as part of a strong set of principles that help businesses operating in town and local centres to thrive." 

ACS’ 2017 Community Barometer research shows that the general public view Post Offices and convenience stores as the two services that have the most positive impact on local high streets. More than one in five convenience stores offer Post Office services, with 45% of stores currently providing a free to use cash machine. 

There are over 18,000 convenience stores operating in urban areas in the UK, representing over a third of the overall convenience sector. 

The full submission to the MHCLG consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework is available on the ACS website here

Alongside a formal call for evidence on the future of the high street, which ACS will be responding to in due course, the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee is encouraging views from the public about why their high-street matters and what they think could be improved about it. The public and retailers can tweet their views and pictures of their high street using the hashtag #myhighstreetmatters to @CommonsCLG.

This entry was posted by Chris on Thu, 10/05/2018 - 15:07