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You are viewing : Home » LOCAL COUNCILS UPDATE (view all editions) » 2012 Editions » July Edition

Strategies to revive neighbourhood shops

Clearing out the louts, setting up savvy services and rallying round the community are top of a ‘shopping list for success’ that can transform run down neighbourhood shops into parades to be proud of, Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has said. He is publishing a new guide that gives hands-on practical advice and insights on how to restore local shops into vibrant business areas that are full of local character and sit at the heart of neighbourhood communities. This builds on the high street review by Mary Portas and the announcement of 12 ‘Portas Pilots’.

 New research shows that local shopping parades - traditionally a neighbourhood preserve of convenience shops, greengrocers, newsagents and cafés - are crucial to the economy. These micro businesses hire on average less than ten employees each, but still account for over half a million local jobs across England. These vital local shops are facing mounting challenges from lack of investment, anti-social behaviour and competition from online shopping and mega-store discounts. For example in the past ten years out-of-town retail spending rose by almost 30 per cent while neighbourhood stores only increased by 18 per cent.

The new guide Parades to be Proud of: Strategies to support local shops sets out ‘a shopping list for success’ for village or neighbourhood communities and shop owners to think about to rejuvenate their local shopping parades. It recommends:

  • Making parades safer - many local shopping parades have become rundown and magnets for anti-social behaviour like intimidating shoppers, littering or graffiti that affects footfall. Shop owners and councils should work together to find ways to buy lighting, CCTV, shop front awnings or shutters or work with the police to set up neighbourhood watch schemes will all help increase street safety.
  • Restoring pride in parades - in order to continue to thrive, local businesses need to think creatively and innovatively about how to enhance their shops. A collective focus on the parade’s selling points, sharing advertising costs, or maximising the impact of personalised face-to-face services and local knowledge can all help restore its reputation.
  • Rallying round the community - working with community organisations to champion local events like street fairs or running community services will attract local residents and help make the parade the hub of the community.

The guide makes it clear that local shop parades have not been forgotten and that their role in the community remains vital. It sets out the Government support on offer to this specific type of local shop including:

  • Community Right to Bid which allows local people to step in and save treasured local shops, giving parades the reassurance they can get community support if needed;
  • doubled small business rate relief from £6,000 to £12,000 for two and a half years is available to half a million firms with the average tax benefit is around £1,650. Inflation increases on bills can be spread over three years;
  • councils can offer extra business rate discounts that can be targeted towards local shop parades as a result of the Localism Act. The Act has also made it easier for local firms to claim the relief they are entitled to;
  • 12 new Portas Pilots will share in £1.2 million to rejuvenate their high streets and reinvigorate businesses to drive local growth. Local shop parade representatives are encouraged to join their ‘Town Team’ ahead of a second round of pilots in July. In addition a £1million Future High Street X-Fund will go to the best Town Team schemes;
  • local parades can participate in their Neighbourhood planning forum which gives communities control over how their areas develop. These can make the sure the local shops are factored into the future development and benefit from simplified planning like change of use rules; and
  • a multi-million Community Action Against Crime Innovation Fund is helping local groups and communities to tackle local crime problems. Community Safety or Crime Reduction Partnerships operate in many communities and can offer support or advice. The Association of Business Crime Partnerships has produced crime reduction guides for retailers.

In addition the Government is also offering wider support through:

  • a £200 million growth Accelerator fund to help up to 26,000 of England’s brightest small businesses achieve their ambition and potential, as well as an £82.5 million Start Up Loan scheme so 18-24 year old can get loans up to £2,500, with a repayment period of up to five years, to support and training to start a business;
  • a £500,000 fund for Business Improvement Districts is available to help town centres access loans for their set-up costs.

 Background information

 1.      The Parades to be Proud of: Strategies to support local shops guide is provides local people and shop owners, who are best placed to find solutions to local issues, with the tools and the strategies to rejuvenate their shop parades. This report is published here: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/regeneration/paradesstrategies

  1. The Portas Review, published on 13 December 2011, set out what Mary Portas thought had led to the decline of the high street and made 28 recommendations about what could be done to breathe life back into them. It is available here: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/regeneration/portasreview
  2. Details of the twelve town centres across the country that will have a unique opportunity to revitalise their high streets after being selected to be the first Portas Pilots, including the second round competition, are available here: www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/2136594
  3. More details of the tax break help available to small businesses is available here: www.communities.gov.uk/news/newsroom/2124553

(Published by DCLG: 6 June 2012)