Rebuild the high street, says think tank
The Great British high street is in such terminal decline that it needs to be bulldozed and rebuilt on a post war scale. That’s according to the rather dramatically named Distressed Town Centre Property Taskforce.
The taskforce was set up after Mary Portas was paid tons to go around tutting at shop windows and be photographed outside BHS in a directional catsuit - and it thinks that the entire infrastructure of the high street needs to be changed. The group, which is made up of retailers, investors, bankers and landlords has been researching possibilities for improvement for months. And their verdict is to KNOCK THE BUGGER DOWN.
The problem seems to be that there are too many shops. Endless branches of Claire’s Accessories, massive amounts of retail space, and giant malls. ‘There's still a need for vibrant retail, just less of it.’ Said the group’s chairman, Mark Williams. ‘People do not shop in the same way.’
So what do they suggest? Well, a massive restructuring of city centres, a strategy to determine land ownership, a High Street property fund, flexibility to change use of empty properties, and more power for councils to purchase land.
Who’s going to pay for it? Well, they want funding to be restructured, too. Mark Williams added:
‘There is a huge amount of private sector funds available to regenerate town centres. But it requires scale and planning. What it's not there is for piecemeal change, an ad hoc approach to fix the odd shop. So we're looking about scale and critical mass. And in that sense the private sector will respond to local authorities and government initiatives.’
Oh, it all sounds very complicated. Can’t we just bung a couple of branches of Subway and a Millie’s Cookies in there and just hope for the best?