Retail guru Mary Portas, who was appointed by David Cameron two years ago to review Britain’s struggling high streets, has accused the Government of lacking “joined up thinking.”
Portas also hit out at Communities and Local Government Secretary Eric Pickles after he approved the building of a 82,000 square foot supermarket on the seafront at Margate, Kent.
Speaking to Channel 5 news last night, Portas said: “We need some clear policies or planning. We cannot have a high street first policy, with the government saying ‘Yes, we believe in it’ and then have the Secretary of State signing off out of town retail. That doesn’t work.”
The television presenter also suggested that service-based businesses such as health clinics and crèches – instead of retail- would be the future of the high street.
“We have been obsessed with high streets being retail. In the future we know that cannot be the case. I would imagine about 30 per cent needs to be the case,” she said.
“We need a new vision, we need to trial new ideas and we need to give opportunities to new businesses. Those could be businesses that are about well-being, health and sports.”
In a YouGov survey for Channel 5 News, 63 per cent of those asked said they did not think government policy had gone far enough to help ailing high streets. And just over half of those polled said they felt there was a future for the local high street, with a third disagreeing.