Labour’s high streets plans a welcome step to Take Back the High Street

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Labour has begun to set out a new vision for our high streets. Power to Change has the tested ideas to enable communities to take charge of high street regeneration.
10 Apr, 2024

We need to Take Back the High Street. Walking down most city centres, you will see boarded-up buildings, shops that don’t meet local needs and graffiti. This atmosphere feeds into a sense that things in this country just aren’t working as they should. 

Labour are right to set out a plan for our high streets. It looks to:  

  1. tackle anti-social behaviour through neighbourhood policing 
  2. roll out banking hubs to guarantee face-to-face banking in every community 
  3. replace business rates with a new system to level the playing field between high-street business and online giants 
  4. stamp out late payments to small and independent businesses 
  5. revamp empty shops and community spaces through introducing a Community Right to Buy.  

The proposals recognise the value of a more local economy – with thriving small and community businesses – and the need to tackle vacancy and to make sure people feel safe on their high street.  

Reacting to Labour’s proposals, Nick Plumb, Associate Director for Policy and Insight at Power to Change said:  

“Our vision to Take Back the High Street is one of local people with the power and ownership over what happens to their high street. Parts of Labour’s plan begin to realise this new vision – giving communities more power through a Community Right to Buy that would grant them first refusal on the purchase of Assets of Community Value in their local area and on the high street, something we have long campaigned for. Steps to level the playing field through a replacement for the business rates system would also be welcomed by many community businesses who are overburdened by the current business rates system.  

We have the ideas for Labour to fully realise a new vision for the high street so communities can take it back.  

We’ve modelled a British High Street Investment Vehicle that would act at the speed of private capital – leveraging commercial and social investment – to buy high street property on behalf of communities and transfer them into community ownership over time.  

We’ve tested Community Improvement Districts across England, which showed when communities have more of a say on the strategic direction of their local high street and local people are equal partners in high street regeneration, it can create sufficient conditions for high street regeneration, creating a focus previous high street regeneration programmes have not.   

A new vision for our high streets needs new ideas and we have them. We are ready to work with Labour to realise this new vision so that we can Take Back the High Street. In places we are already seeing this new vision come to life, whether that is Hastings Commons in Hastings, Back on the Map in Sunderland, Future Wolverton in Milton Keynes, Nudge Community Builders in Plymouth, or Sparks in Bristol. 

Let’s make this new vision a reality everywhere. Let’s Take Back the High Street.”