Allowing private investors to take a stake in shopping centres could bolster people's attitudes to their local town or city centres, argued Land Securities chief executive Ian Henderson at last week's BCSC conference.
Henderson said establishing real estate investment trusts or shopping centre unit trusts would create a valuable sense of personal ownership and 'emotional commitment' for private investors.
At the moment, the UK is the only G8 country that does not sanction this form of property investment.
If unitized real-estate vehicles were introduced, developers would also gain a source of cheaper capital, enabling schemes to be worked up in secondary towns and cities.
'A wider source of capital would assist this,' said Henderson.
The proposals would enhance shoppers' growing sense of commitment to local towns and cities, instilled by greater consultation over new retail developments and a stronger sense of ownership of the public realm. This would also engender an increased sense of pride and loyalty.
'The public are now more involved than at any other time,' said Henderson.