Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement.  Responding to the Grimsey Review, published today, September 4th  Civic Voice Chair, Paula Ridley, said:

“We welcome any report that shines light on the importance of town centres. Town centres should encompass a complete community solution and we have long advocated this”.

Details of Grimsey’s review include the idea of forcing local councils to draw up 20-year visions, freezing of car parking charges, and forcing shopping centre developers to provide affordable shops or market stall space for local traders. Many of these are sensible suggestions.

Ridley added “Many high streets suffer from a lack of strategic vision and strong leadership. Plans for town centres should give local authorities, communities and businesses the opportunity to work together to breathe new life into them. We have to accept that not every town centre can be saved in the way some people might want. We have to manage that change”.

Paula Ridley finished by saying “The majority of our high streets have changed forever and we will not be able to reinvent them as they once were. As a nation we have become obsessed with retail yet we have to accept that retail has changed and needs less high street space. Given these far-reaching changes, communities need to ask themselves hard questions about what they want from their local high street and work together to achieve that vision."

Civic Voice once again calls for the following measures to better protect our high streets:

  •         consider transferring business rates from out-of-town development to reduce rates in town centres
  •         introduce Secretary of State “exceptional sign off” for all new out-of-town developments
  •         provide limited free parking
  •         introduce localised permitted development rights to make it easier for local planning authorities to control the mix of shops
  •         free up councils to offer rate relief
  •         tackle landlords who leave property vacant.