Government response to the Select Committee inquiry into high streets and town centres in 2030

Author MHCLG

This 2019 publication from MHCLG responds to evidence given to the Select Committee inquiry into high streets and town centres in 2030. Covering a range of recommendations around transforming high streets, the publication offers government responses to these. These are organised around: high streets today; high streets in 2030; how we get there; central government action; planning; local action; retail; empty properties; landlords; and the High Streets Task Force.

Date added 14 September 2021
Last updated 15 September 2021

This 2019 publication from the MHCLG responds to evidence given to the Select Committee inquiry into high streets and town centres in 2030. Covering a range of recommendations around transforming high streets and town centres in the future, the publication offers government responses to these. These are organised around: high streets today; high streets in 2030; how we get there; central government action; planning; local action; retail; empty properties; landlords; and the High Streets Task Force. Some of these recommendations and responses are summarised below.

Recommendation: To be successful, high streets need to adapt to become activity-based community gathering places, with retail part of a broader range of activities provided on the high street, and community placed at the heart.

Government response: "...We agree that community must be at the heart of all high streets and town centres... We want to see high streets and town centres becoming welcoming places that contribute to building a sense of community and civic pride... MHCLG has an ambitious Communities Mission Statement that places communities at the very heart of the Ministry’s work... The Open Doors pilot will match community groups to vacant high street properties to deliver their programmes" (pp. 7-8).

Recommendation: We recommend that strong local leadership should be one of the key criteria by which bids [to the Future High Streets Fund] are assessed.

Government response: "...MHCLG has placed the importance of local leadership and development of a coherent and ambitious vision at the heart. This is why we have placed a strong weighting on evidence of local leadership, vision and strategic ambition of places in the assessment of applications to the Future High Streets Fund..." (p. 9).

Recommendation: For high streets to flourish, partnership working is essential between central government, local government, local actors, retailers, and landlords.

Government response: "We recognise that there are a large number of stakeholders involved with and key to the success of high streets, including local businesses, property owners, Business Improvement Districts (BIDs), local authorities, community groups and Local Enterprise Partnerships... Successful high streets require an effective partnership between these different types of local organisations" (pp. 10-11).

Recommendation: The ‘town centre first policy’ should be updated to reflect the growing multi-functionality of centres and non-retail uses such as health, education, and leisure.

Government response: "The National Planning Policy Framework is clear that an integrated approach should be taken in considering the location of housing, economic uses and community facilities such as health, education and cultural infrastructure, so that these enhance the sustainability of communities and residential environments” (p.19).

Recommendation: Plans and visions for the high street should be flexible, forwards-facing, and regularly updated to attend to changing trends.

Government response: "Up to date plans should provide a positive vision for the future of each area, and are key to articulating a positive strategy for successful town centres... We agree with the sentiment outlined by the Committee that bids for the Future High Streets Fund and local plans should be bold and forward–thinking. Having a strong, transformative and sustainable vision for a town centre or high street is an important component in achieving transformational change” (p. 22).