The British Retail Consortium (BRC) has said that UK high streets need to be actively planned, managed and nurtured if a positive, post recession future is to be achieved.
Its recent report revealed that the economic downturn has accelerated the decline on the country's high streets, with 12 per cent of town centre shops now vacant – three times more than last autumn.
In its rescue plan, the BRC has set out a twenty-point plan for securing the long term future of retailing up and down the UK, to the end of the recession and beyond.
Among its recommendations, economic health of town centres would be consistently monitored, especially in locations considered to be approaching tipping points.
Good design of public space is also important, with emphasis placed on maintenance and heritage features.
The plans also call on the Government to back the UK's high streets by not enforcing new property and business rates, while local authorities should adopt a responsible and inclusive approach to the money they spend.
"High streets are at the heart of local communities and economies, providing jobs and essential services," said Stephen Robertson, director general of the BRC. "They are a crucial part of our national retail mix but many of them are in trouble, facing difficulties that began well before the current recession."
"Some will flourish again as the economy recovers; others have to shape a different future as customers' needs change. But that cannot be left to chance. These processes have to actively managed by local authorities with their retailers, other businesses and residents."
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