Portas Plan

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.

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One thought on “Portas Plan

  1. We at Action for Market Towns, a charity representing small and market towns and those living and working in them, also welcome this report.

    It’s great to see a debate about what the future of the high street might be taking place at the national level.  There’s no easy solution.  It’s not about going back in time and trying to recapture the townscape of old.  For us, and for our members, it’s about thinking innovatively and exploring what each individual community wants their town centre to be. 

    And that could be anything, the focus need not be solely on retail.  It could be about creating safe, attractive spaces for whole spectrum of activities to take place.

    Many of our members are already seeking new ways to improve their town centres as illustrated in our Annual Market Town Awards – http://towns.org.uk/market-town-awards/market-town-awards-2011/.

    The challenge is, as you say, getting government, local authorities, retailers and communities to pull together this time and make it work.  There’s not need to start from scratch though….take a look around and learn from the great work already happening, and get support from the many charities and other organisations out there to help.

    AMT’s response to the Mary Portas Review – http://towns.org.uk/2011/12/13/queen-canute-or-high-street-princess-highlights-from-portas-review-and-amt-response/

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