Leader’s Gov­ern­ment call: Let us try high street plan

Gloucestershire Echo - - BUSINESS - By IAN MEAN, BUSI­NESS WEST GLOUCES­TER­SHIRE DI­REC­TOR AND GFIRST LEP BOARD MEM­BER » Join the de­bate and stay up to date by fol­low­ing us on Face­book @Gloslive on­line

THE Gov­ern­ment is be­ing asked to make Glouces­ter­shire one of five places to pi­lot a Bud­get scheme to re­gen­er­ate the county’s high streets.

The call comes from Dr Diane Sa­vory chair­man of Glouces­ter­shire’s lo­cal en­ter­prise part­ner­ship, gfirst LEP.

She said: “I am writ­ing to gov­ern­ment to tell them that Glouces­ter­shire is al­ready ahead of the game in the bat­tle to re­gen­er­ate our high streets and I want the county to be one of their five pi­lot ar­eas in the coun­try for these pla ns”.

The plans are part of the Chan­cel­lor’s £675mil­lion Fu­ture High Streets Fund an­nounced in the Bud­get to in­vest in town cen­tre in­fra­struc­ture to in­clude in­creased ac­cess to high streets and sup­port­ing re­de­vel­op­ment around them.

An im­por­tant facet of these plans is what the gov­ern­ment is call­ing an Open Doors pi­lot in five town cen­tres to bring empty prop­er­ties back into use by match­ing land­lords of va­cant prem- ises with lo­cal com­mu­nity groups look­ing for space.

The plans also in­clude the pi­lot­ing of a reg­is­ter of empty com­mer­cial prop­er­ties.

Diane Sa­vory is for­mer chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer of Su­per­group and an ac­knowl­edged ex­pert on the fu­ture of high street re­tail­ing.

She added: ”I am go­ing to thank min­is­ters for what they are now do­ing with these new Bud­get an­nounce­ments on the high street but tell them there is so much more to be done.

“I think Glouces­ter­shire should be cho­sen as one of the five key ar­eas in the coun­try due to all the work we are cur­rently do­ing to de­velop a new ap­proach to en­cour­age shop­ping and help shops in the county to sur­vive.” Diane also be­lieves that shop land­lords must also play their part in help­ing the High Streets to de­velop and sur­vive.

“Land­lords are now be­gin­ning to smell the cof­fee,” she com­mented.

“They have al­ways been able to have a cer­tain dom­i­nance over build­ings. But they are now re­al­is­ing they are not get­ting the re­turn against their in­vest­ment if they have got empty units.

“So, the land­lords on the high street have to change too.

“It re­ally is a change for them to re­alise they can­not con­tinue in the way they have done be­fore.

“I think there is a slight onus on land­lords to start look­ing at their own square footage to de­velop some en­tre­pre­neur­ial ideas on lease and rental terms to en­cour­age busi­nesses to set up.

“To open a shop any­way you need a cer­tain amount of cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture be­cause you have to do a shop­fit, but land­lords could look at what we call key money.”

*Glouces­ter­shire is rapidly de­vel­op­ing in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions to the chal­lenges of the chang­ing face of the High Street.

The lat­est de­vel­op­ment is the launch­ing in Glouces­ter of the UK Dig­i­tal Re­tail In­no­va­tion Cen­tre-the na­tional cen­tre test­ing and de­vel­op­ing so­lu­tions faced through the mi­gra­tion of the High Street.

The cen­tre is funded by gfirst LEP and be­ing de­liv­ered by Mar­ket­ing Glouces­ter. glosprint@lo­cal­world.co.uk

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