Retail Development

Retail Development

Retail, the High Street Review and revivification of historic cores – Bircham Dyson Bell 23 March

The HTF is currently confirming final speakers for this joint HTF/English Heritage event on 23 March. Issues looked at will be those brought forth by the Portas Review, the particular retail issues experience by high streets in historic towns, parking and infrastructure and how this relates to retail, and retail-led regeneration and the particular advantages and problems posed by this in our historic town centres. The full programme will be available shortly. Confirmed speakers include the Association of Town Centre Management, English Heritage, British Parking Association, the Local Government Association, and leaders from within the retail industry.

Spaces are limited so register your interest here.

Love Your Local Market fortnight

"Markets across the country are seizing the initiative and leading the drive to revitalise the nation's town centres", said Communities Secretary Eric Pickles.

He continued praising the retail markets groups for agreeing to hold a special "Love Your Local Market" fortnight in the summer, and called on all market managers to get involved so more budding entrepreneurs have the opportunity to test and develop their business ideas on a market stall.

Would-be retailers will be able to benefit from proposals such as "tables for a tenner", where they can turn up on the day and pay just ten pounds for a stall. Other initiatives include "market mentors", where seasoned market managers and traders will offer tips and advice on how to run a successful business.

The move, announced on 26 January at a national conference for market and town centre managers, mirrors recommendations in Mary Portas' High Street Review, which recommends that markets become the test beds for prospective shopkeepers to try their hand at running a low-cost business.

The Love Your Local Market fortnight will be held from 23 June to 8 July 2012
Read more

10-point Manifesto for Town Centres and High Streets

The Association of Town Centre Management (ATCM) 10-point Manifesto for Town Centres and High Streets, launched a month after the publication of the Review, encourages support for managers of the UK's traditional shopping, entertainment, cultural, public service and transport hubs.

It adds to the growing calls for investment in the first of Portas' 28 recommendations, at a time when local authorities are cutting their town centre management budgets.

ATCM Chief Executive, Martin Blackwell said:

"Mary has highlighted many of the problems town centres face and has properly put management at the top of her shopping list of solutions. Unlike a single-owner shopping centre, there is no natural leader for the high street. Local authorities have often assumed the role, but many towns are losing their town centre managers because of budget cuts.

"We hope this Manifesto will help win the argument for continuing with town centre management despite the squeeze."

The ATCM believes that free parking at out-of-town retail parks and malls disenfranchises people who do not have cars and unfairly undercuts town centres.

"Ending the business rate exemption given to them would give a major boost to the amount local authorities could reinvest in town centres," said Blackwell, "including giving discretionary rate relief to small businesses. The 1954 Landlord & Tenant Act should meet contemporary and future needs and make it easier to identify, contact and engage owners."

The Manifesto calls for plan-led approaches to economic development that include statutory town centre strategies and are developed through partnerships with businesses, landlords, developers, local communities and consumers of the full range of town centre services.

It calls for attractive, well-managed and safe public spaces with activities and events including general and specialist markets, entertainment and an improved provision of public toilets, especially for women who are currently underserved by the available facilities.

More support is needed to develop supplemental rates-funded Business Improvement Districts which can provide additional services that local authorities are often financially unable to provide.

The 10-point Manifesto can be found on-line at

The Portas Review

At the end of 2008, the average town centre vacancy was under 6%, but at the end of 2010 it was 14.5%. If the decline continues at this rate in two years’ time almost a third of UK high streets will be standing empty.  So say studies carried out by the Deparment of Business and Innovation.

Mary Portas, star of shows such as Mary Queen of Shops and Mary Queen of Frocks has been asked by Government to advise on issues such as how to address the problem of vacant shops, prevent the proliferation of ‘clone towns’, and increase the number of small and independent retailers in local town centres.

Ms Portas is expected to finish her investigations by the end of the year and is due to report to Government on Tuesday 13 December.

Mary has received nearly 2,000 comments on her website from members of the public and high street retailers since the review began.

Findings from two HTF/EH workshops attended by a wide range of property professionals, retail practitioners and partnership organisations will also fed into the report.

High Street Review Out

According to ATCM studies, if the current highstreet decline continues almost a third of UK high streets will be standing empty in two years' time. So say studies carried out by Department of Businesses and Innovation.

Mary Portas, star of shows such as Mary Queen of Shops and Mary Queen of Frocks, has been asked to advise Government to advise on issues such as how to address the problem of vacant shops, prevent the proliferation of ‘clone towns’, and how to increase the number of small and independent retailers in local town centres.

Ms Portas is expected to finish her investigations by the end of the year and reported to Government on Tuesday 13 December.

Findings from two HTF/EH workshops attended by a wide range of property professionals, retail practitioners and partnership organisations fed into the report. 

The Portas Review was published on 13 December. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) has announced that the Government will respond to the review in the Spring. For inclusion in the ATCM offical position please read the review and send your comments to

An HTF conference on this subject will take place on 23 March. Register your interest.

Economic Vision in Historic Towns - planning and regeneration York 20 October 2011

Conference overview - tweets from the day

Speakers' Presentations:

York's success as an historic town (851KB)
Prof Sir Ron Cooke
, Chair, York Civic Society

Vision into practice in historic cores of Great Places (2.23MB)
Kevin Murray
, Chairman, Academy of Urbanism

Future planning for regeneration and wider economic issues in historic towns (1.05MB)
Matthew Spry
, Director, Nathaniel Lichfield and Partners

Derry's historic walled town - traffic, parking and people: towards a balance (1.15MB)
Kevin McGovern
, Principal, RPD Consulting (Derry)

Marketing an historic town's USP by foot (2.08MB)
Sue Manley
, Director, PlaceMarque

Regenerating redundant heritage buildings and making them pay (420KB)
Rosi Lister
, Director North, Churches Conservation Trust

THIs and future funding (451KB)
Charlotte Dodgeon
, Programme Manager, Heritage Lottery Fund

THI - a suitable case for regeneration (752KB)
Anna McPherson
, Partner, Drury McPerson Partnership

THI case study - Shepton Mallet (494KB)
Paul Tomlinson
, Conservation Project Officer, Mendip District Council

Regeneration of a spa town case study - Scarborough (1.18MB)
Chris Hall
, Conservation Officer, Scarborough Borough Council

Lincoln Connect case study (1.42MB)
Adam Partington
, Townscape Character Projects Manager, City of Lincoln Council

Prince's Regeneration Trust case study - Sowerby Bridge (1MB)
Fred Taggart
, Projects Director, Prince's Regeneration Trust

Continued Growth for BIDs in Scotland. Apply for Grant Funding Now!

A one-off Scottish Government grant of up to £20,000 will be available as 'seedcorn' funding for each new Business Improvement District project that comes forward (subject to qualification criteria). These modest but useful sums act as a catalyst to enable partnership working and the development of realistic BID Proposals that are likely to be attractive to local private and public sector stakeholders.

BIDs can help grow the local economy, stimulate investment, deliver on the wider regeneration aspirations of the public sector and create strong local partnerships with direction and vision. BIDs Scotland Director, Ian Davison Porter, commented: "The BID mechanism has huge potential to leverage significant additional investment, secure supporting revenue streams, and deliver local services."

The use of BIDs is not restricted to towns and cities. A BID can also focus on a particular sector rather than a district, such as tourism, agriculture, rural areas and single business sectors such as golf and whisky.

Grant funding is still available. Contact Ian Davison Porter to discuss the potential of the BIDs mechanism in your area.

Mary Portas BIS High Street Review - events and consultation

The Historic Towns Forum, in conjunction with English Heritage, is holding two consultation round table events to feed into the BIS High Street Review. The first round table event will be held at Bircham Dyson Bell (HTF partner) with a follow up round table to be held towards the end of October. The events are invitation only, but will lead to an HTF retail event to be held in January. High profile delegates from relevant organisations within the sector have been invited. Mary Portas has also been invited and her attendance is to be confirmed. Papers from each event will be available in November.

Repond to the review
More information on the review
ATCM/UK BIDs are calling members to comment on their response to the Mary Portas Review

Director's View - September Newsletter

Traditionally in the sector August seems to be a quiet month – a time to reflect on previous events and to plan the year ahead; a time to catch up on emails, correspondence, and event to take or plan a quiet summer holiday. This period of quietude extends beyond the sector, too. August holidays. Lazy summer sun, gentle days, less stress. But not so this year. People are still reeling from the riots. What on earth happened? Where was the Big Society? HTF were in Derry and Belfast planning next year’s summer conference with partners when it all kicked off, and the irony wasn’t lost on us. At a time when the 2012 Games are so close, when domestic and international tourism are so important to us, when the plight of our high street retail has never been so marked, how do we respond and recover from the sudden and unexpected horror and violence that erupted in our towns and cities?

While Social Media has been largely blamed for the phenomenon (as well as praised for the clean-up operation) it has also been a hotbed of discussion around the complicated and perplexing events of recent days. Several discussions have centred on the role of our historic built environment in benefitting communities and reducing similar behaviour, while others have looked at strategic investment into inner cities – timely comments while the growth vs. conservation argument heats up around the NPPF and when the second tranche of Enterprise Zones has just been announced. Here in the office we are still scratching our heads in wonder and but can advise that if you have been affected by the riots you can seek compensation, and if you are looking for advice on safer, more vibrant night time economies, you could do worse than engage with our Purple Flag event.

Leaving you with an interesting and salient point gleaned from a recent Linked In discussion - that in the design of the ideal city we need to work with the city itself, rather than using it as a tool to achieve political, cultural, economic and environmental goals. That we need to consider it as an ‘ecosystem... [with] a multiplicity of drivers... social dynamics being the greatest one’ – that as designers and planners we should work with the inhabitants of a place rather than imposing design on the inhabitants. And isn’t the irony of that that it takes us right back to the Localism debate within the aegis of the Big Society? That a whole swathe of people supposed to be empowered by the Bill have been completely bypassed by it? Is it already time to go back to the drawing board? It’s difficult to see the positives but this is surely the wake-up call the Government needed. And a wake-up call for the sector. Let’s continue to seize the opportunities and engage. Now is not a time for cynicism. It is a time for civic action.

Noël James
HTF Director
23 August 2011