Redwood is backing a new report from the Distressed Town Centre Property Taskforce which shines a spotlight on the action needed to save troubled high streets. Redwood launched the report, achieving blanket national press coverage and a spot on BBC News at 10.
Report recommendations include:
Government should designate town and city centres as key national ‘infrastructure’ in order to open significant funding opportunities currently not accessibleGovernment should pilot a joint venture vehicle, and associated high street property fund, to pool land assets and address fragmented ownershipAggressive use of compulsory purchase powers should be encouraged, simplifying the current system for local councils, in order to bring about the scale required for major urban reconfiguration and regenerationLocal authorities should take more risk in investing capital reserves now, which can be replenished as the economy recovers. The ‘rainy day’ for town centres has arrivedThe private sector should be used to equip local authorities in terms of finance and human resources; upskilling and best practice support for councils is critical to encourage strong local leadership and planningSignificantly greater flexibility in the planning system is required to enable quick and easy change of use from redundant retail premises to more economically productive uses, achieved against a strategic masterplan allowing clarity over the long term rather than piecemeal conversion.