Government unveils inquiry on future of high streets

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The Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee has launched a new inquiry on the future of UK high streets and town centres.

The inquiry will examine the future role of the high street in contributing to the local economy and the health, cohesion and cultural life of the local community. It will also look at how local areas are planning for the future of their high streets and town centres and creating the conditions to sustain them in the coming years.

In addition, the inquiry is likely to examine the legacy of the government’s previous work on the high street, including the Portas Pilots, the Future High Streets Forum and the Great British High Street.

James Lowman, chief executive of the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS), said: “This is a timely inquiry because high streets and the businesses trading in these areas are experiencing significant change.

“There can be a positive future for high streets and local parades, but they will need support from central and local government to reduce operating costs and ensure planning and taxation policy help them to adapt to meet the needs of the modern consumer.”

As part of its ongoing work on high street issues, ACS this week submitted evidence to the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government’s consultation on the National Planning Policy Framework, outlining support for a strong ‘town centre first’ policy and calling on the government to ensure that local shops, especially those that offer essential services like access to cash and banking services, are recognised and promoted in the planning system.

Lowman added: “Convenience stores operating on high streets and in town and city centres are not only key contributors to the local economy, but are also taking on essential services at a time when other specialist outlets like banks are closing.

“The contribution of convenience stores that provide banking services and access to cash for local people should be explicitly recognised in the National Planning Policy Framework as part of a strong set of principles that help businesses operating in town and local centres to thrive.”

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