MARKET TRADER, MAY 10 - 23, 2019 Securing the future of the UK High Street

Tom Brown, managing director of real estate at Ingenious, reveals some fascinating insights about the potential future of our high streets

UK High Streets have reached a ‘tipping point’. That was the view of a recently published parliamentary inquiry report on UK high streets. The shift to online sales (now accounting for 20 percent of all retail sales), the upward revaluation of business rates, previous planning policies and local authority financing constraints are impacting retailers and high streets up

and down the country and across all sectors. As concerns have

intensified about the state of our high streets, the Government is slowly starting to take action. And urban regeneration is set to be a significant area of policy focus over the next few years, as the high street is rightly seen as a vital component of the UK’s economic and social fabric. In consequence,

property investors should be seeing this as an emerging opportunity. Ultimately high streets

need people if they are to survive and return to being at the heart of the communities they serve. It may be stating the obvious, but the need to attract people back into our town centres will have long- term implications for town planners for years to come. Evidence suggests that

the towns that have found it harder to adjust to the challenge from online sales are those that have tended to be overly exposed to retail. This narrow focus has meant that, as bricks-and-mortar shopping has declined, there has been little else to replace footfall into town centres. Urban planners are now

Town centres need people if they are to survive (Photo: Paul Easton)

shifting their efforts towards creating activity-based communities, moving away from the retail-centric model and bringing together a full range of amenities including shops, leisure, hospitals, residential, offices and spaces for art and culture. The message from the

government: raise town centre population density Government initiatives

are facilitating the move towards town centres being places of social transactions, rather than just a conduit for financial ones. There has been a key strategic message sent from central to local government: raise the density of populations in UK town centres. This was an expl ici t

objective in the revised National Planning Policy Framework in July 2018, targeting mainly those areas that are already well-served by existing transport links. In particular, the Framework stated its support for maximising the use of previously developed or ‘brownfield’ land, which includes opportunities to use the airspace above existing residential and commercial buildings for new homes. Measures announced in

the October 2018 budget further reinforced this policy objective by proposing to extend the use of permitted development rights (PDRs)

Traditional High Street retailers are falling

and allowing for more compulsory purchase orders. PDRs give greater flexibility around change- of-use regulations, allowing for empty retail and office space to be converted into residential, as well as permitting development in the airspace above existing buildings. However, a major barrier

to town centre regeneration is fragmented ownership, which is seen to inhibit a more holistic approach to town centre planning. To help tackle this problem, one initiative being proposed is to trial a register of empty shops in selected towns (bids

are currently being reviewed by the Future High Streets Fund), allowing prospective developers and tenants to gain easier access to existing properties. The Future High Streets

Fund and Future High Streets Task Force have been established to help local authorities with financing and expertise, including helping to attract private investment, albeit within a limited scope given that only selected local authorities will benefit. More generally, the government has also announced £900bn worth of business rate tax relief for smaller retailers, which

Looking for a new market?

Gosport Market is a long established south coast market held twice a week; on Tuesdays and Saturdays. This busy market is located in a prime spot on Gosport’s main High Street and close to the pedestrian Ferry that links Gosport with Portsmouth - so there are plenty of passing shoppers.

With pitches competitively priced, 2019 is a great time to take a pitch at Gosport Market and we’d love to hear from you.

To book a regular or casual market pitch please see below:

If you require an application form, please email: or you can download from the Gosport Council Website.


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