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| 29/10/2012 |
Industry Taskforce Pushes Forward On Key Portas Recommendation
Senior figures across banking, retail and property sectors meet to begin to establish ways of rejuvenating UK towns and cities.

The newly-formed, industry led, cross-sector taskforce has today announced its membership, and agreed to undertake a review of UK towns and cities to identify through empirical research the property-related barriers to the vitality and performance of town centres.

The taskforce has been set up following the Government's response to the recommendations from the Mary Portas' review. The findings from the research are aimed at providing clear evidence and options on property related issues that allow both central and local government to make informed decisions over priorities relating to the impact and vitality of town centres. Critically, however, the research will also help the industry itself respond effectively to current and future challenges.

The taskforce brings together both public and private sectors, including professional bodies and trade associations, with senior representatives from banking, retail, local government and the property industry. Member organisations and businesses include Association of Chief Estates Surveyors (ACES), British Council of Shopping Centres (BCSC), British Property Federation (BPF), British Retail Consortium (BRC), Investment Property Forum (IPF), Local Government Association (LGA), Property Bankers Forum (PBF), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS), and The Booksellers Association. There are also key representatives from GL Hearn, Gloucestershire LEP, Javelin Group, Legal and General Property, Lloyds Banking Group, and Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS).

Mark Williams, Chairman, Distressed Town Centre Taskforce and partner at asset managers, Hark Group, commented:

"The Taskforce recognises that our High Streets are going through a structural recalibration, rather than an economic cycle from which we will emerge over time. The wider economic, consumer and retail markets have moved at a pace that our High Streets and property in general, have not been fast enough to adapt. The reasons for this need careful examination as a way of understanding what the current property-related barriers to rejuvenation are, and what the range of options or solutions could be.

"The solutions to re-establishing town centres as dominant locations for the communities they serve and the local economies which rely on their prosperity will vary and involve both public and private sector property. Critically though, the Prime Minister has pushed the plight of the High Street high up the political agenda. This research will provide hard evidence to allow tough choices over priorities to be made. Mary Portas' enthusiasm, profile and energy will ensure that the topic remains a high priority by the time we report."

Mark Prisk MP, Minister for Town Centres, High Streets and Markets, said:

"I'm pleased that this wide range of industry experts are coming together to examine how best to help reinvigorate the country's town centres.

"No two towns will face the same challenges or require the same solutions but this work, led by the British Council of Shopping Centres, will give them an insight into what makes a town centre tick, and entices communities to support it.

"I look forward to seeing the conclusions that the group reaches, and how our network of over 300 Town Team Partners and 27 Portas Pilots across the country can use their findings to breathe new life into their high streets."


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