Prioritising action on business rate rises and parking in the Portas Review is “exactly right”, the British Retail Consortium (BRC) believes.
The BRC has welcomed the 28 recommendations Mary Portas put forward to revive the high street, but urged the Government to act quickly.
BRC director general Stephen Robertson said: ““The three key words in the report are ‘make things happen’. Let’s see the best of these recommendations acted on quickly.”
Of the two priority recommendations, Robertson said: “This is welcome recognition that parking is critical. We back ‘free controlled parking schemes’ and we’re very interested in the idea of a new parking costs league table
“We would though be very concerned at any proposal which sought to penalise parking out-of-town. Free parking benefits customers. We should be levelling up the appeal of retail locations of all types.
“We’re delighted Mary Portas has not ignored the impact of massive business rates bills on existing retailers. Achieving a rates system that produces increases that are more affordable and predictable is crucial. Bricks and mortar on the high street must reflect changing shopping habits.”
But although the BRC is pleased Mary Portas has rejected a moratorium on non-town centre development, it says introducing a Secretary of State exceptional sign off for all new out-of-town development and requiring and affordable shops quota is “unnecessarily restrictive” and could stop new developments being built.
“We welcome the central thrust of Mary Portas’ recommendations for the high street – that they respond to changing customer demands - but we’re concerned a couple of proposals are at odds with this and have the potential to make development more difficult,” Robertson added.