Uniting stakeholders could revive high streets, report claims

Uniting stakeholders and pooling assets could allow local communities to revive struggling high streets, according to a new report.

The Town Centre Investment Zones report, put together by Peter Brett Associates with Bond Dickinson and Citi Centric, identifies fragmented ownership and poor asset management as key factors limiting the high street’s ability to adapt to change.

The report calls for local government to develop town centre investment zones, including town centre management groups, which could develop a new structure for investment by pooling a critical mass of property assets into an investment vehicle. This would allow assets to be properly managed, thereby allowing investors to fund developments on a large scale.

It also calls on the Department for Communities and Local Government to incentivise the creation of these local groups, which could include business rate relief and additional capital allowances.

Jonathan Bower, real estate partner at law firm Bond Dickinson and one of the report's authors, commented: “Our town centres have been on the sick bed for quite some time and fragmented ownership is a major barrier to nursing them back to health. By pooling assets so they can be more proactively managed, we can rejuvenate town centres and make them destinations of choice once again.

“The necessary legal structures exist but it will take collective engagement from existing landowners, local authorities and investment funds to reap the rewards. Local authorities in particular have a key role to play both as significant landowners in town centres but also because they have statutory powers that could be effective in facilitating this change in ownership structure.”