New Future High Streets Forum to build on the work of Mary Portas

The UK high street cannot live in the past and must adapt to survive, says local growth minister Mark Prisk.

A stark warning has been issued to high streets around the country as the government looks to secure the long-term future of the shopping destination.

Local growth minister Mark Prisk has spoken out and called on high streets to adapt to the ‘changing needs’ of today’s consumers.

His comments come as the government forms a new national Future High Streets Forum to bring together leaders from retail, property and business to understand the competition town centres face. It is hoped the forum will create and implement new ideas and policies.

The Future High Steets Forum will, the government says, be building on the work of the Portas Review of the High Street.

Back in May 2011, prime minister David Cameron appointed retail consultant Mary Portas to lead an independent review into the future of Britain’s high streets.

Portas, the so-called ‘Queen of Shops’, was charged with investigating how the government, local authorities and businesses could promote the development of more prosperous and diverse high streets.

The result of the investigation was the creation of 27 Portas Pilots and 330 Town Teams aimed at ‘breathing new life’ into town centres and high streets.

Prisk’s new Future High Streets Forum will reportedly advise the country’s Portas Pilots and Town Team Partners on how to adapt to an era of online shopping.

Furthermore, it will investigate: promoting parking solutions; making it easier for pop-ups to use redundant spaces, allowing commercial landlords to part-use properties for residential and reinforcing Town Centre First planning rules.

More on the state of the UK high street:

Speaking to the 27 Portas Pilots in Loughborough, Prisk commented, ‘It is clear that our high streets will need to change to prosper.

‘There is already great work being done across the country to revitalise the town centres, but it needs to spread further faster. The Future High Streets Forum will help us do that.’

The structure of the forum will see Prisk and Alex Gourlay, chief executive of the Health & Beauty Division at Alliance Boots, chair the organisation. Members will then include representatives from the likes of John Lewis, the British Retail Consortium and the British Property Federation.

Gourlay, adds, ‘High Streets are vital for the health of our communities, providing services and support that are accessible and within easy walking distance for many people.

‘From speaking to our customers, we know that the survival of the High Street is very important to them.’

Peter Briffett, managing director of LivingSocial UK & Ireland, comments, ‘This forum is without doubt a step in the right direction but it is just not enough. It is businesses and high street stores themselves who need change and tap into changing consumer habits.

‘Consumers are no longer looking just to the high street to make their purchasing decisions. They go online to find out about a product or service first before they visit a local bar, restaurant or shop. In a nutshell, businesses need to adapt or die.’

The Portas Review can be found here, and the government’s response to the study can be read here.

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter Ruthven

Hunter was the Editor for from 2012 to 2014, before moving on to Caspian Media Ltd to be Editor of Real Business.

Related Topics