“What you always do before you make a decision is consult. The best public policy is made when you are listening to people who are going to be impacted. Then, once a policy is determined, you call on them to help you sell it.”
— Margaret Dole
Banner image (photo of Holyrood Parliament Banner image (photo of a delegate in a suit listening intently at a conference)

“The High Street should be at the very heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment; so it is vital that we do all that we can to ensure they thrive.”
— the Prime Minister, May 2011

“Our high streets can be lively, dynamic, exciting and social places that give a sense of belonging and trust to a community. Something which, as the recent riots clearly demonstrated, has been eroded and in some instances eradicated.

…Local authorities, landlords, retailers and the public need to work together to really animate the spaces they occupy; re-imagined as destinations for retail, socialising, culture, health, wellbeing, creativity and learning.”

— The Portas Review, December 2011


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Event Details

Title: The Future of the High Street: Revitalising our Town Centres
Date: Tuesday 24th April 2012
Time: 10.15am – 4:30pm
Venue: Central London
Register your place

Key Speakers

David Morris, Deputy Director, Local Economies, Regeneration and European Programmes, Department for Communities and Local Government
Graham Chase, President, The Association of Town Centre Management
Cllr Stephen Alambritis, Leader, London Borough of Merton; Former Head of Public Affairs, Federation of Small Businesses (FSB)
Gordon Maddan, Business Engagement Manager, Better Regulation Delivery Office
Dan Gregory, Associate, Respublica


Approximately 15,000 shops in town centres closed between 2000 and 2009, with a further 10,000 losses in the past couple of years. After years of neglect, deterioration and poor management our high streets and town centres have reached a stage where unless immediate action is taken to reverse this decline, many more towns and communities will lose the real social and economic benefits that high streets have been able to provide for centuries.

Recognising the important role high streets play as a focal point of social interaction, plus the employment and local commerce opportunities which they can provide, the Government has pledged to reverse this downward trend.

In December 2011, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) published ‘Understanding High Street Performance’ and leading retail marketing consultant Mary Portas published an independent review of our high streets on request from the Prime Minister.

The rise of supermarkets, internet sales and growth in ‘m-commerce’ (sales over mobile devices) have provided robust competition to the high street. Sainsbury’s, Tesco and Waitrose now allocate more than one third of floor space to non-food sales. The supermarkets together sell almost as much music as HMV, the dominant high-street music shop – more than Apple or Amazon.

Against this background, local councils, landlords and retailers have sought to work together with Government to revitalise our town centres and bring economic and community life back onto our high streets.

This special symposium provides an invaluable opportunity for local authorities, retailers and leisure operators, town centre management teams and other key stakeholders to discuss the latest Government thinking and explore innovative solutions to shape the high street of the future.

Delegates will:

  • Assess the effectiveness of existing planning policies to promote the vitality and viability of town centres
  • Discuss the powers open to local authorities to revitalise the UK’s high streets
  • Consider the impact of e-commerce, mobile retailing and supermarkets on the high street and town centres
  • Explore the Mary Portas review and it’s key recommendations
  • Share ideas and re-imagine the high streets and town centres of the future


09:30 Registration and Morning Refreshments
10:15 Chair’s Welcome and Introduction
10:30 Panel Session One:
High Streets at the Crossroads – Revitalising our Town Centres
  • The Portas review recommendations – the role of government, local authorities and businesses to help high streets
  • Planning policies to promote competitive town centre environments – considering the new national planning policy framework (NPPF) coming in April 2012
  • Exploring the full range of mechanisms available to local authorities to boost growth – new discretionary powers, compulsory purchase orders and other tools
  • Learning from the competition – how to compete in the digital technological era with the growth of online and mobile retailing
  • How to adapt in the new age of consumerism – succeeding alongside out-of-town retail, with the rise of supermarkets and malls
11:15 Morning Coffee Break
11:30 Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel One
12:30 Networking Lunch
13:30 Panel Session Two:
Policy into Practice – Implementing a New Sustainable Vision for Local Economic Growth
  • Reinvigorating recession-hit high streets – reducing the density of betting shops, pawnbrokers and money-lending shops with a wider range of choice for shoppers
  • Encouraging better accessibility to town centres through innovative transport and parking schemes
  • Assessing successful BID (business improvement district) models and understanding how best to replicate them
  • Looking at the code for leasing business premises and exploring ways of eliminating empty properties from high streets
  • Sharing ideas and best practice on how to develop the high streets and town centres of the future
14:15 Afternoon Coffee Break
14:30 Open Floor Discussion and Debate with Panel Two
15:30 Chair’s Summary and Closing Comments
15:40 Networking Reception
16:30 Close

Who Should Attend?

  • Local Authority Planners
  • Local Government Planning Committees
  • Town Centre Managers
  • Economic Development Officers
  • Local Authority Policymakers in Environmental Services
  • Directors of Economy and Environment
  • Environmental Health/ Enforcement Officers
  • National Trade Associations
  • Councillors and Key Town Centre Stakeholders
  • Tourism Managers
  • Property Management Officers
  • Estate Agent Associations
  • Retailers and Leisure Operators
  • Investors and Developers
  • Local Government Environmental Specialists
  • Planning Consultants and Surveyors
  • Urban Designers and Architects
  • Architectural Liaison Officers
  • Leading Members/Officers Responsible for Regeneration and the Environment
  • Community Development Officers
  • Neighbourhood Management Teams
  • Civil Enforcement Officers
  • Community Safety Managers
  • Local Authority Parking and Traffic Management Teams
  • Action for Market Towns
  • High Street Business Associations
  • British Chambers of Commerce
  • British Business Improvement Districts
  • Small Business Federations
  • Local Enterprise Partnerships
  • Management Consultancies Associations
  • Conservation Trusts
  • Transport Managers
  • Licensing Authorities
  • Charities
  • Voluntary Organisations
  • Third Sector Practitioners

How to Book

Phone: 0845 606 1535
Fax:     0845 606 1539
Email: bookings@publicpolicyexchange.co.uk