A group of property experts within the Government’s Future High Streets Forum is to pilot a town centre collective ownership scheme among landlords.
The initative is designed to tackle the issue of fragmented ownership on the high street, which has made it difficult to implement a single cohesive strategy to improve town centres and has been highlighted as a barrier by experts.
The British Property Federation (BPF) has put forward the idea to the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG). The BPF has been working with the British Council of Shopping Centres and consultants Peter Brett Associates to examine how to encourage disparate landlords to work together to create a joined-up high street offer.
Ideas on the table include a joint venture model, a collective investment model - which could involve landlords owning shares and earning dividends - and voluntary and compulsory measures that could see the local authority take more responsibility for the town centre. There is also an opportunity to leverage the power of existing Business Improvement Districts, said BPF chief executive Liz Peace.
Peace said: “You find inevitably that the ownership is fragmented in town centres as some property owners may not be concerned with how their tenant correlates with the high street.
“We need to curate high streets in the same way that shopping centres are curated.”
The parties are attempting to raise around £50,000 to pilot the different ideas in two to three varied UK town centres, such as a London suburb, a northern town centre and a small market town.
Peace added that she is yet to meet with new high streets minister and co-chair of the Future High Streets Forum Penny Mordaunt on the issue.
The Forum was set up by the DCLG to help revive high streets severely impacted by the recession and continue the work carried out by retail expert Mary Portas. Alliance Boots managing director for health and beauty in the UK and ROI Simon Roberts also co-chairs the group.