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Civic Voice Live - 17 August - 1pm - Take action for our high streets
Posted: 08 August 2011 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]
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There will be a live discussion on what we can do to protect and revitalise our high streets here at 1pm on 17 August for one hour.

With 41% of our towns already classified as “clone towns” and another 23% on the brink we all know our high streets are struggling in the face of economic decline, out-of-town development and the growth of chain stores.  Civic societies are campaigning for their future across England and the importance of high streets has been recognised by the Government which has asked Mary Portas to lead a review.

This is our opportunity to make a real impact and give high streets the support and protection they need. We need your thoughts on the following questions which are being raised:

1. What do you think are the problems with the high street?
2. What do you think should be done to solve them?
3. How might these solutions work in practice?
4. Who should be involved in taking your solutions forward?
5. Do you see your group having a role?

You can also take a moment to respond to the online poll on how best to save our high streets on our home page http://www.civicvoice.org.uk

It would also be helpful to have examples of any campaigns you are running to benefit your high street so we can share them with other groups.

 
 
Posted: 16 August 2011 09:37 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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The council could encourage premises owners to think of other uses for their property. They may have a problem if the value has dropped, but if more and more shops become unoccupied, then the area will devalue even further and the owners will lose even more. Commercial companies could purchase and renovate property into homes. The government/council could make this more attractive by giving an incentive to people/companies who invest in the area.

 
 
Posted: 16 August 2011 10:15 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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High level strategy from government, implemented at LA level is now the only real way that the trend can be reversed. However, I don;t know if Civic Voice is aware of the american Main Street US manged by the American National Trust, but that works with communities to get involved and take help save the high street. Maybe something for your board to consider?

 
 
Posted: 16 August 2011 10:18 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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By the way our Civic Society is very small but if we joined forces with the other Civic Societies in the area, we would willingly get invovled - even with our lack of experts in this area, it is something we believe in

 
 
Posted: 16 August 2011 03:50 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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There is a problem with this, to which I do not know the answer. As usual, it is the affluent middle classes who campaign, but do we have the right to deprive people of the very real benefits that shopping at Sainsbury, for example, offers?

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 08:50 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I would like to know, what really can our group do about this? It is such a big issue that can only really be dealt with by Tesco changing its behaviour and the Government review town centre policy. I honestly do not know what impact a community group can have in this area. BUT do tell me if I am wrong!

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 08:51 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Submission from Lancaster Civic Society

In Lancaster we have to face a Public Inquiry because a developer has been refused permission for an out of town retail development. What evidence is available to confirm that such developments have a significant adverse impact on local people?

Sorry cannot join discussion, will be at work. Hope my question adds interest and that there is evidence I can use.

Malcolm Martin
Sent from my iPhone

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 11:49 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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A lively discussion has already begun which may reflect the importance of the issue.

The Main Street example in the US is a good one from abunson and has been picked up as High Street UK and now known as Reimagine your High Street, run by the new economics foundation and with some practical examples involving civic societies in places such as Malvern.  There are more details here http://www.neweconomics.org/projects/high-street-uk It is a great idea to team up with other local groups and swap ideas.  Why not try out the ideas behind reimagining your high street?  We may be able to match you up with some free external advice and support.

hw asks what role councils and businesses can play in encouraging new uses.  This goes to the numb of the economics as commercial companies will convert buildings but only if it is financially viable and planning consent is given.  There is a lot of work going on to encourage councils and others to find temporary (or “manwhile”) uses for buildings including a discussion forum here http://meanwhilespace.ning.com/

Peter Landshoff puts his finger on a very real issue - as individuals we may say one thing but then shop another!  Some civic societies are addressing this by promoting loyalty cards with discounts for shopping locally - such as the Heath and Hampstead Society

Lancaster raises a problem lots of groups face - making your case at a public inquiry.  There is a lot of help at the Tescopoly website from campaigners who have been here before (it is one of the regular links in civic sense) and you will also find it here http://www.tescopoly.org/  Lots can be done to map the local food webs that will be lost by a major development - find out more with CPRE’s campaign advice here http://www.cpre.org.uk/resources/farming-and-food/local-foods/item/1913-mapping-local-food-webs

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 12:01 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Welcome to Civic Voice Live - what are the issues facing our high streets, what needs to be done and how can we help?

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 12:06 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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Dear Tony
I would be interested to hear what Civic Voice plan on doing to save our high streets?
Peter

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 12:08 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Posted on behalf of Sue Roscoe Watts

Civic Forum Question
Can Local Authorities introduce laws to turn empty shops into local residences , where possible (for example shops in parades of older buildings with flats above . ?)
Ensuring there are residents living in these empty spaces and perhaps using the amenities still available.
Sue Roscoe Watts

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 12:10 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Peter - that’s the focus of this discussion.  We’ll have most influence if we know what’s happening with civic societies locally, what they think needs to be done and what the key issues are.  There are a number of questions which have been asked (see first entry in this discussion thread) and we will be pulling together a response to the Mary Portas review based on what we receive back.  We will also be working with other organisations to influence the results - such as the group which produced this excellent summary of some of the issues http://urbanpollinators.co.uk/?page_id=1028  We will talk to Ministers, civil servants and MPs as well as upping the ante in the media and providing support to local groups who want to take action locally

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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What do others think of Sue’s suggestion - how far can empty shops be turned into houses and will this tackle the problems?  Or maybe there are other temporary uses which can keep them alive until things recover enough for the shops to retuurn?

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 13 ]
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I don’t think this is an easy subject at all.  In High Wycombe we have recently acquired a huge new shopping centre which seems to be popular and has probably reversed the tendency of people from the nearby villages to shop elsewhere.  Therefore temporarily (?) we have over-capacity.  An older, once-attractive, town-centre shopping centre has boarded-up shops and our historic High Street has a W H Smith, a Poundworld (very successful, apparently), an Iceland and apart from that it’s mainly estate agents, solicitors and banks.  Planning guidance to favour the town centre (the “sequential rule”) is strong.  Perhaps some pro-active policy to foster a particular identity (particular kinds of shops?) for the High Street is needed (any ideas, or experience?) but planning law doesn’t provide for that, does it?

Out of town, at Bourne End, Tesco recently had their wicked way through an appeal (which they of course were able to throw as much money at as they wanted to) but it was difficult to fault the inspector’s logic over the quite small number of local shops that would be affected.  Personally, I’m unhappy at the fact that a Local Planning Authority’s decision, which is taken democratically in full knowledge of the facts and the views of local people, can be routinely overthrown.  It seems the opposite of localism, but tell that to Mr Pickles!

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 12:13 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 14 ]
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Will you be just talking or will you be “doing” - this field of “high streets” has become very heavily populated over the past few years with different organisations getting involved. How can Civic Voice add value to the many organisations already playing a part. You have limited resources and shoul you not concentrate priorities on other activities.

 
 
Posted: 17 August 2011 12:14 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 15 ]
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Our Problem in Marple, Stockport is that we are faced with a very large supermarket propopsal on a local college site which is just outside the retail zone/town centre. The proposal contravenes local planning policy, The Core Stretagy. However, the college are advised by their consultants that the retail proposal does not contravene planning law and will be taken to appeal if refused. The application has not yet been submitted

There is a strong local campaign against the proposal, supported by the Civic Society. Andrew Stunell MP has mounted a campaign asking the College to “Think Again” on behalf of the lib dems in Marple.

The Marple in Action Campaign is arranging the following to raise awareness and show opposition to the supermarket and the College:

Weekly information stall in the town with petition etc
March around the town starting at the College this Satuday
Rally in the park
350 peoplee attended the last area committee meeting to confront the 6 local councillors

We are looking at the new planning policy to see if it can help us would welcome any advice on what more can we do.

 
 
   
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