Commercial: High street help

Could Mary Portas help areas like Blackpool's Central Drive (below)?
Could Mary Portas help areas like Blackpool's Central Drive (below)?
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IT’S hoped the Portas Report into Britain’s ailing high streets will help improve property prices and rents in town centres.

Almost all of the retail expert’s recommendations to Government have been accepted – and all aim at increasing footfall into town centres, improving the rateable value of shops on the way.

Central Drive, Blackpool

Central Drive, Blackpool

North West RICS spokesperson, Jonathan Mills of Jones Lang La Salle, said: “This response is a welcome signal of the Government’s willingness to see high streets as engines for growth.

“Local town and city centre businesses are key to achieving economic recovery and town teams or Business Improvement Districts offer business communities the chance to work together as one entity to shape the development of their high street.

“However it is essential that these recommendations not only complement the changes made by the Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework, but also do not create more mechanisms and red tape.

“RICS supports the Code for Leasing Business Premises and is raising awareness of it throughout our 60,000 members involved in commercial property.

“Also, RICS and the British Retail Consortium have produced a small business lease that will support SMEs by simplifying the leasing process for landlords and small business tenants.”

Government minister Grant Shapps said a huge plus of the recommendations would be empty retail units returning to use.

A High Street Innovation Fund worth £10m is currently being given to town centres to help improve high street values.

Ms Portas established 28 recommendations in her review, commissioned by David Cameron. They include free car parking, softer planning regulations, annual market days and better communication between traders.