Good for Mary Portas. She was given a tough task, to explore how to revive Britain’s high streets. Her review is full of energy, life and creativity. In my words, not hers, the call is for all the parties involved – small business and big, local authorities and residents – to co-operate.
I like her stress that if we can create convivial spaces, we can then create sustainable habitats for local shopping and local enterprise.
The challenge is that we often have neither the structures nor the cultures at the local level to co-operate, so that all the best ideas remain just that – ideas. If we want to renew our high streets, we have to value them. But we also need the economic, business and planning models that are about reinvestment and sharing the benefits. Without that, I fear, the review may end up being interpreted as one more call for voluntarism. Let’s hope there is enough practice and there are enough communities that can prove that wrong.