Mary Portas and ‘The Future of the High Street’

May 29, 2011

The TV-famous shopping guru Mary Portas has taken on an independent UK Government review on The Future of the High Street. Whether or not one recognises her expertise, her influence is undoubted. It is therefore interesting to read the many comments on her thread. Several ideas are mooted there which are of interest to our project:

  • The advantages of ‘bricks and clicks’ (businesses with online as well as high street shopfronts);
  • Offering order and collect or drop off your shopping while you browse services
  • Creation of a local customer community to take disseminate local knowledge
  • Need for diversity of activities and diversity of business unit sizes (we’ve commented on this many times ourselves)
  • Problem of zoning of activities being anathema to mixing of uses
  • Free enterprise zones and/or low rent for start-up businesses (see earlier blog on business rate concessions)
  • Later opening hours for working people
  • Impact of road layout on speed of traffic, interruption of flows of pedestrian movement
  • Parking: convenience, price and ease all essential to town centre take-up
  • Relaxation of planning laws and regulations, lower local taxes
  • And interestingly – as we found betting shops to be the most common land use across the country – the “parasitical blight of betting shops” is cited as a fundamental barrier to good local centres
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