Friday 23 May 2014

The power of local government to determine the future of high streets

The District Council have turned down proposals to support local high streets:
Futures Forum: District Council decides against the Local Retail Levy
although Exmouth Town Council have supported these moves:
Futures Forum: Local Retail Levy: Exmouth Town Council support Transition Town Exmouth initiative

There seems to be growing pressure to have local councils work harder to ensure the future of their high streets.

Looking at London, here is a further extract from the piece by Alex Proud
Futures Forum: What to do about car emissions: transport in London
from the Telegraph this week:

I've told you what's wrong with London, now here's how I'd fix it

Alex Proud has railed against the rich for driving the creative class out of London, and attacked neophile hipsters for turning every borough into another Shoreditch. But enough complaining: how would he make the capital better?

Hogarth's depiction of gin soaked London in the 18th century Photo: Alamy

By Alex Proud19 May 2014


London has big problems and I want to see them fixed.

I’ve written about these before. First (and, perhaps, rather frivolously) I looked at the phenomenon of “Shoreditchification", where neophile hipsters eat their way through neighbourhoods like locusts. Later, and more seriously, I focussed on how the rich are driving everyone else out of inner London and destroying the city’s character in the process...

While we’re on planning, councils need to be able to dictate far more closely what sort of businesses and retail goes into each area. At the moment we have a cycle where quirky one-off shops colonise down-at-heel areas only to be priced out five years later when the area becomes trendy. Effectively, Tesco and a few absentee landlords are the end beneficiaries of the hard work put in by the vintage dressmaker who took all the risks in 2004.

Funny though it is, watching behind-the-curve tourists wandering round once hip areas that now have all the character of Basildon High Street, this points to a general problem with planning. Councils are not allowed to differentiate between a McDonald’s and a small bistro, or a Vodaphone shop and an art gallery. They should be. Indistinguishable high streets impoverish all of us. Well, all of us except the CEOs of Tesco and Vodafone who could probably do with a bit of impoverishment.

I've told you what's wrong with London, now here's how I'd fix it - Telegraph

This is from a paper put together by the London Assembly:

The review’s terms of reference were:
• What are the benefits of small, local and independent retailers to
London? (And in what locations do we define these types of shops?)
• What evidence is there to show that they may be under threat and what
are the main threats faced by small, local and independent retailers?
• What policies have been proposed to support small, local and
independent retailers and what progress has been made in implementing
• What can the Mayor do through the planning system to support small,
local and independent retailers?

www.london.gov.uk/sites/default/files/Final draft small shops_0.pdf

And other London councils are trying to do something:
Brent Council plans to ban new takeaway shops near secondary schools and colleges - News - Kilburn Times

Although the threats to the high street continue:
Housing proposed to replace high street shops - FT.com
Costa Coffee opens three shops a week | Mail Online

To conclude, however, an interesting take on how to shop today:
Going online can save high street shops | Local Leaders Network | Guardian Professional

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