Rebuild the high street, says think tank

29 November 2013

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?


  • Gordon B.
    What they've realised is that people are willing to pay more for a residential property than they can ever hope to earn from empty shops. Doesn't take a genius to then decide that, rather than shops, flats are a much more profitable idea (especially in the near future). Of course, we can blame it all on the internet and the changing shape of shopping. The reality is that councils have killed the high street with poor public transport, expensive parking, excessive business rates and rents, and general greed.
  • Goldfish
    In Leicester several perfectly good private car parks (i.e. a patch of tarmac and a bloke to collect the money) were undercutting the council-run car parks. So the council changed the rules and had all the private car parks closed down. Shoppers went elsewhere.
  • jim
    yeah every time a shop closes in my town they turn it into flats
  • jt
    Fairly soon no-one will want to live in the flats built on the site of closed down shops on the High Street as all the jobs will have moved out of town as well.
  • Warwick H.
    Our former wonderful High St now needs demolished as it is an eyesore, new units built 35 years ago have never been occupied, the former Kwik Save super market is a shell,Councils are to blame for a lot, sky high parking charges, allowing one big supermarket to be built which decimated the local shops. its all betting shops and phone shops that are left, even the charity shops have buggered off.

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