Corporate News

Councils 'should lead town centre regen'

The head of the government-backed Distressed Retail Property Taskforce has called for councils to lead town centre regeneration.

Hark Group's Mark Williams, speaking at Estates Gazette's Retail Summit 2013, said: "We require local authority leadership. They should determine what they want in town."

He said that with some town centres having a 50% surplus in retail floorspace, such space needed to be "decommissioned".

Compulsory purchase orders were required to assemble land and make change, he added.

The taskforce is consulting with house builders, such as Barratt Developments, to see if they would be interested in sites for residential development.

Alison Jennings, regeneration manager at Braintree district council, which is a Portas Pilot town, praised the initiative for re-energising the town centre.

The town has used its pot of funding to launch strategies such as "10p after 3pm" parking, which has prompted 44,000 additional car visits.

It also hired an events coordinator and launched an Easter egg hunt, which brought 800 more people into the town centre, Jennings said.

"The Portas Pilot has been a fantastic opportunity and enabled our town centre programme to go from strength to strength," she added.

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