Sir: The Grimsey Review (‘20,000 high-street shops on the brink, warns Grimsey review’, 2 September) was an interesting rejoinder to Mary Portas’ Commons Select Committee appearance. But at heart Grimsey’s proposals aren’t a million miles away from Portas.
Both are concerned about out-of-town development. Many councils say they are too - but, dazzled by job numbers for large new out-of-town proposals, often approve them notwithstanding the ‘sequential approach’ in planning policy, which is supposed to prioritise the town centre. If Westminster and Holyrood are serious about safeguarding the high street, clearer guidance should be issued explaining when out-of-centre proposals should be altered or reduced in scale so they can be accommodated in town centres. The suitability of town centre sites should not be determined solely by retailer operating preferences.
And both stress the high street needs to get back to its roots with a better mix of uses, including residential. But ownership on the high street tends to be highly fragmented. Retailers come in many sizes and shapes. The Treasury, Department for Communities and Local Government, devolved governments and local authorities are all key players too. Uniting them all in one vision is the master key to the high street’s salvation.
Roland Smyth, senior associate, Dundas & Wilson