The government is to launch a fresh bid to save the High Street after admitting the Portas Review had not made progress fast enough to stop the spiral of decline.
A new Future High Streets Forum will urge towns to make more significant changes to adapt to the shift to online shopping, which has seen a spate of nationwide business casualties since the start of the New Year, including Jessops, HMV and Blockbuster.
It is bringing in industry, academics and trade organisations, whose leaders have previously attacked the lack of concrete inroads made by the Portas Review and accused the process of being too led by personality.
Members include representatives from John Lewis, the British Retail Consortium, the British Property Federation, the British Council of Shopping Centres, the Association of Town & City Management and the Association of Convenience Stores.
The new forum will urge town planners and landlords to allow space within thousands of commercial properties in town centres to be turned back into housing to draw new shoppers in to struggling centres.
It will also seek more effective ways to slash the cost of parking and make it easier for redundant empty spaces to be used as pop-up shops.
“It is clear that our high streets will need to change to prosper,” said local growth minister Mark Prisk.
“There is already great work being done across the country to revitalise the town centres, but it needs to spread further faster.”
The move was described as a “positive step towards delivering real changes” by ACS CEO, James Lowman.
The announcement comes weeks after the new director general of the BRC, Helen Dickinson, told The Grocer the work to save the High Street had been too driven by the cult of personality and achieved little by way of significant results.
Dickinson also said that while Portas’ involvement had raised the profile of the crisis facing the UK’s retailers, it had made few real inroads.