Property giant CBRE has warned the Portas’ measures will not be sufficient to save the high street.
Head of retail consultancy at the property firm Jonathan De Mello said that making making out-of-town centres more difficult to trade, which he believes is a key-element of the Portas Review, would be “self-defeating” as retailers would not make extensive changes to trading locations.
De Mello said that Portas’ recommendations did not go far enough to revive secondary high-streets.
He said: “For those secondary centres where retailers choose to close rather than open stores, a fundamental shift in spend to the internet and supermarkets cannot be stemmed by allowing more overnight deliveries and reducing the amount of charity shops.”
“Fundamentally, if such centres are to survive, they need to provide a more consumer-focused and convenience-oriented shopping trip, with catering and leisure as an integral part of the mix.”
However De Mello was more positive about Portas’ recommendation to relax planning restrictions to enable property owners to easily change use. He said the move would help the easy conversion of commercial space into residential.
Portas should have reduced rather than deferred business rates, De Mello claimed. He said: “This would directly, and positively, affect retailers’ bottom lines - which is exactly what they need in this challenging economic climate.”