I've been reading the Government's response to the Eleventh Report of Session 2017 – 19 of the Housing, Communities and Local Government Select Committee inquiry into high streets and town centres in 2030 that was published last week. Lots of information on business rates and the retention by local authorities of the growth in this tax (growth would be a lovely concept for many!). Lots of work to review Planning, CPO and even the L&T 54 Act as highlighted.
Most importantly, there is a strong emphasis on local leadership and the responsibility of our local authorities (already with dwindling resources of both people and revenue funding) to drive the transformation.
All in all, I don’t think that there is a lot you can disagree about regarding the approach - it’s just I don't think there is enough financial fire power in the various funds and diversion of tax receipts to deal with the scale of the issue. The other way of looking at it, I don't think there is enough value being attributed to the OPPORTUNITY that exists and how the change can be used as a really positive chance to create environments that support jobs, education, wellbeing, safety, housing needs (and not just more flats) and deliver longer term communities that will create value from the environment around them. There is still a major focus on retail closures, valuation corrections and investor appetite for the sector. The sooner we can get through this phase and onto putting a value on a healthy, growing and well educated community, that lives and works closer together, the better.
The Future High Street Task Force (OJEU was out recently for the selection of a supplier to lead on the coordination of the Task Force) will be a fantastic resource for Local Authority led Future High Street Bids. What about the ones without a successful bid? I'm unclear if they can share in that pool of expertise too? It will hopefully have teeth, resources and leadership to bring the collaboration between public and private sectors, both owners and occupiers. Bringing the public sector together will be hard enough, considering they are set differing, unconnected objectives be that police, health or education.
So my thought is how does the government and wider public sector place a 'value' on the opportunity and create a joined up financial model that is far more forward looking that short term grants and tax? When might we see a policy on affordable offices as well as affordable homes and how can education, health and happiness be seen as the success factors for a community - not simply a block of new flats, which with PDR, is an easy outcome.