Grimsey Review 2: Nostalgia won’t save the High Street
There is too much retail space in the UK and town centres need to be repopulated as community hubs.
That’s the conclusion reached by Bill Grimsey, former Chief Executive of Wickes, Iceland and Booker, in the Grimsey Review 2. This argues that bricks and mortar retailing can no longer be the anchor for thriving High Streets and town centres. It also calls for an overhaul of the business rates system and a ban on out-of-town developments, predicting that nearly 70,000 High Street jobs will disappear this year. “There is no point clinging to a sentimental vision of the past,” says Grimsey, who first tackled this area in 2013.
“This is a comprehensive document outlining the very real challenges our High Streets face,” says Catherine Shuttleworth, CEO at Savvy. “What is clear in the report is that the nostalgic approach to the High Street will not save it. The report highlights the need for power to be driven locally with central support in a complete re-evaluation of business rates. Without such reform from central government the High Street will remain in a perilous state.”
Meanwhile, Cllr Martin Tett, the Local Government Association's Economy spokesman, has leapt to the defence of councils throughout the country. These, he states are "already leading the way in transforming the future potential of their town centres in the face of unprecedented changes in shopping habits and the retail landscape."
He adds: "We are pleased that the report backs our calls for councils to have more powers and flexibility, particularly in relation to planning, to help shape and deliver vibrant town centres. The LGA stands ready to work with the Government, councils and other stakeholders to help secure a prosperous long-term future for our High Streets and town and city centres.”