High street revival proposals due
Moves to revitalise high streets and shopping centres struggling to attract customers are to be revealed, including plans for a national market day and relaxation of rules to make it easier to set up street stalls.
TV retail expert Mary Portas will unveil a review aimed at developing more prosperous high streets after she was asked by the Government to help stem shop closures.
Ms Portas, star of the BBC programme Mary Queen of Shops, is expected to suggest regulations on high-street traders are axed, including restrictions on night-time deliveries, put in place to minimise noise for local residents.
It is understood that Ms Portas has decided against backing a moratorium on out-of-town retail developments, a measure some business groups believe would give a huge boost to town-centre shops.
The report is expected to propose plans for a national market day in a bid to promote indoor or outdoor markets and help drive traffic towards shops.
Richard Dodd, from the British Retail Consortium, said: "It seems that there are a good number of sensible ideas in the report which, if taken together and adopted, could make a difference to many of our troubled high streets."
Ms Portas said: "With town centre vacancy rates doubling over the last two years the need to take action to save our high streets has never been starker."
However, council leaders criticised Ms Portas for failing to consult with them.
Peter Box, chairman of the Local Government Association's economy and transport board, said: "The LGA is concerned that the local expertise of councils will get overlooked once the high street review reaches its conclusions. The review needs to take on board the view of councils, who are trusted by local people to ensure that local high streets meet their needs.
"Councils play a crucial role in growing local economies and improving high streets and need to be suitably consulted if they are to achieve this. We urge Mary Portas to enter discussions with councils on how they can boost local high streets."