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Government announces high street plans

The government has announced it is to accept all the 28 recommendations made in Mary Portas’ high street review, as well as setting up a £10m "innovation” fund to help businesses.

"Towns Teams" will be created to manage high streets and make parking more affordable and a national market day has been planned to incentivise entrepreneurs to try out new ideas and encourage visitors to town centres, the government said today (30th March).

Further government measures include a £1m Future High Street fund to be awarded to towns that deliver the most effective rejuvenation schemes in a year's time and a pot of £500,000 fund to help towns access loans.

The Minister of State for Communities and Local Government, Grant Shapps, said: "I'm accepting virtually all of the recommendations from Mary Portas's review, but I'm also going one step further, with a range of measures designed to help local people turn their High Streets into the beating hearts of their communities once again."

However, while Portas welcomed the extra funding, she has expressed disappointment the measures were not going further. Portas told The Guardian: "I would have liked greater central intervention in critical areas such as change of use, parking, business rates and the sign-off of new out-of-town developments."

Mary Portas’ government-commissioned report, released in December last year, was welcomed by the Booksellers Association at the time, which was pleased she had flagged up high business rates and local parking as problems affecting high street trade, which allied to the concerns of BA members.