Distressed Town Centre Task Force
Posted by Morgan on 29th Oct 2012
The Distressed Town Centre Task Force is a broad based group of public and private sector bodies that also includes banks. (The need to involve banks as part of this debate is something Ellandi have advocated for some time. PW Article 2011.)
For further details of the Distressed Town Centre Task Force see Property Week article.
Ellandi are very passionate about town centres (not just the ones where we have ownership interests) and we are totally supportive of any and all initiatives and groups trying to advocate solutions to the demise of town centres.
However, the Government received a report from Mary Portas in late 2011. At the behest of the Prime Minister, she made several recommendations - some were a bit off the wall but she also made several critical points. For example:
- Out of town shopping undermines town centres so out of town developments should only be allowed with "exceptional ministerial sign-off."
- That the business rates system needs reviewing and changing to support local initiatives and small business.
- That banks should have to manage town centre assets properly or to sell them.
None of these issues have been addressed. If anything matters may have got worse, with the 2015 business rates re-valuation being delayed to 2017 and seemingly less interest from Central Government in calling in local planning decisions that undermine town centres.
Mary Portas speaking at the BCSC, said that she herself is starting to wonder if the Government are really interested in genuinely adopting town centre first policies or if she was part of an empty rhetoric, no more than window dressing?
Hopefully this is not the case. We wish Mark Williams and the Distressed Town Centre Task Force well but surely their task and objectives would be easier to deliver if their appointment was supported by affirmative action based on the Portas Report.