Experienced retailer Bill Grimsey has authored a new report on the future of high streets which calls for better strategic planning for town centres, and a reduction in overall retail space.
Grimsey makes 31 recommendations in total in “The Grimsey Review: An alternative future for the high street”. They include the establishment of town centre commissions to produce 20 year plans for town centres, the return of ‘community’ elements such as libraries, civic facilities, community centres, doctors and so on, which have seeped away over the years, and funded by a 0.25% levy on large retailers.
At a launch at the House of Commons, Grimsey said the UK has too much retail space, and that this needs to be reduced. He advocates strategic plans for town centres that would concentrate the retail element and repurpose what would be outside that area as housing or some other community use.
Town centres would become special planning areas where the commission’s strategy would be the defining document for the assessment of planning applications.
However, he said that the government’s proposed permitted development status for retail-to-resi risked breaking up successful town centres with its ad hoc, piecemeal, approach, and that a more strategic approach was required.
Bill Grimsey will be speaking at FutureTowns, organised by the publishers of LookWest.