Communities secretary Eric Pickles has unveiled a £1bn package of support to boost UK high streets including tackling parking.
The Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said it aims to tackle “aggressive” parking policies by reviewing double yellow lines and stopping CCTV begin used for enforcement. It will also cap increases in penalty charges with immediate effect until 2015.
It believes the moves will make it cheaper and easier to park thereby encouraging people to shop locally.
The Government is also set to launch a “multi-million pound” competition run by the Technology Strategy Board to support business-led digital town centres. It will also fund £4.7m of research on e-commerce and digital high street innovations.
Changes to planning will also be made to make it easier for local authorities to adapt existing buildings, while it will also consult on permitting change of use from retail to restaurants and retail to cinema, gyms, skating rinks and swimming pools. It will also consult on allowing retailers to install mezzanine floors where this would support the town centre.
Pickles said: “New tax breaks for shops and sensible changes to over zealous parking rules will help make high streets more attractive to shoppers. And by providing excellent local services and offering communities a vibrant place to spend their leisure time and money, local authorities can secure the future of their High Streets for many years to come.”
The measures come after the Chancellor George Osborne confirmed the Government would impose a 2% cap on business rate rises next year, instead of the 3.2% rise expected which is linked to September’s RPI.
A raft of other measures to boost high streets include up to £1,000 discount each year from 2014 to 2016 for retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000.
It will also halve business rates for 18 months for new tenants in retail premises that have been empty for a year or more.
The Government hopes the moves will ease pressure on retailers and enable them to grow and create more jobs.