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Report urges town centre investment zones to rejuvenate high streets

Published: Thursday, 21st January 2016

Better asset management of the high street could unlock much-needed investment for local authorities and help communities transform town centres according to new report.

The report, which was part funded by the Depart for Communities and Local Government, advocated the establishment of so-called Town Centre Investment Zones where the pooling of a critical mass of property assets into an investment vehicle would allow the assets to be managed better, in the process helping rejuvenate the high street.

This approach has been trialled in three areas in England, at Melton Mowbray, Weston-Super-Mare and Dartford.

This model allows existing stock to adapt to the various challenges facing high streets and lets local authorities future-proof their town centres, ensuring that they have a better consumer offering, which could include housing and more leisure space.

The report recommended that areas designated for the asset management treatment should be set up as Town Centre Investment Zones (TCIZs), in order to provide “coherence, leadership and a clearer focus for all involved and a clear signal to potential investors that all local stakeholders are aligned”.

Such Zones would also benefit from being given, in due course, a range of concessions similar to Enterprise and Housing Zones, as well as the support given for business neighbourhood planning.

The report identified fragmented ownership and poor asset management as the key factors preventing high streets from adapting to changing circumstances

The report was compiled by planning practice Peter Brett Associates with law firm Bond Dickinson and property consultancy Citi Centric.

Roger Milne