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Revealed: Retail guru’s detailed plan to save the high street

4th Jul 18 8:14 am

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Local authorities need to be given more powers to have the final say to grant planning permission, prevent land banking and encourage landlords to fill empty shops, The Grimsey Review 2 has concluded following extensive research into the state of Britain’s high streets.

A team led by the former chief executive of Wickes, Iceland and Focus DIY, Bill Grimsey, argues that greater devolution and stronger local leadership is needed to give high streets a renewed sense of purpose and identity.

Among the 25 recommendations in the review are also calls to replace business rates, create a Town Centre Commission to develop a 20-year strategy for local high streets, and accelerate ongoing digital transformation in smaller towns.

The review has also looked at the costs, financing and operating models of towns. It reveals many examples of best practice showing where there is political will and good local leadership, smart regeneration that embraces technology and recognises the challenges posed by an ageing demographic is possible. The authors have also proactively contacted key stakeholders of towns and cities to gather evidence and opinion, as well as understand
what town/community plans already exist.

It has already been welcomed by the former boss of John Lewis and current Mayor of the West Midlands, Andy Street, who has praised the “combination of business experience, rigorous research and creative thinking” contained in the Review.

Commenting ahead of the launch of the review, Bill Grimsey said there had been some progress since his original review – but not nearly enough.
“In our first review in 2013 we argued that there is no point clinging to a sentimental vision of the past and that we need to start planning for a bold new world. This is still very much the case and we need to look to the future,” he said. “What we have seen during our research this time is that some very good initiatives have been put in place up and down the country over the last five years. These need to be celebrated, but progress is too slow and
the retail landscape is rapidly changing.

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