City centre organisation the Association of Town & City Management (ATCM) has been selected by the Government to develop UK high streets and guide Portas Pilots and Town Teams for the next two years, it has been announced today.
Following the debut meeting of the Future High Streets Forum yesterday, the group was chosen by the Department of Communities & Local Government (DCLG) and will work to improve capabilities and share best practice while also leading activities such as regionally based workshops, webinars, national training and one-to-one guidance.
Each Portas Pilot, identified in July last year after retail guru Mary Portas identified towns in need of a cash injection to rejuvenate the retail sector, received £100,000 of Government funding to develop projects to strengthen their retail offering while Town Team Partners received £10,000 and a package of support provided by the ATCM.
ATCM CEO Martin Blackwell explained: “Some of the funding has already been well used to generate ‘quick wins’ on local community levels.
“Other funds have been allocated to target longer range problems as well as insuring wide spread ‘buy in’ from local residents as well as businesses and authorities.
“What is important is not how much of the Portas money has already been spent, but what is actually happening on the ground, including consultations and match funding that is being levered through the Portas vision.”
As part of the package, the Association of Convenience Stores (ACS) will collaborate with the ACTM to deliver training for retailers and communities, with workshops aimed at increasing community involvement in the scheme.
Residents will be able to get involved with influencing planning policies and other decisions which will affect their area in the long-term and ACS CEO James Lowman welcomed the move.
“We are delighted to be working with ATCM on these workshops,” Lowman said.
“The key to delivering a modern and diverse retail mix is for retailers and communities to take control of planning in their area, and we believe that by getting out around the country and working with engaged business leaders and members of the public we can enable them to make a positive difference to the future of their local economy and community.”
Maintaining a focus on boosting the high street remains a key commitment of the Government and, since the completion of Portas’ review in December 2011, 27 Portas Pilots and 330 Town Centre Partners have been created across the country.
“Over the last year this Government has worked hard to help boost the high street, including initiatives to simplify planning, revamp the public realm, cut the business rate burden and revive local markets,” said Local Growth Minister Mark Prisk.
“This package of support, alongside the work of the Future High Streets Forum, will help drive forward these initiatives and provide Town Teams with the strategic leadership needed to help their high streets adapt to the modern market.”