Civic Voice responds to the Grimsey Review on the future of the high street

Responding to the Grimsey Review, published today (Wednesday) Civic Voice Chair, Paula Ridley, said:

“We welcome any report that shines light on the importance of town centres. Town centres should encompass a complete community solution and we have long advocated this”.

Details of Grimsey’s review include the idea of forcing local councils to draw up 20-year visions, freezing of car parking charges, and forcing shopping centre developers to provide affordable shop or market stall space for local traders. Many of these are sensible suggestions.

Ridley added “Many high streets suffer from a lack of strategic vision and strong leadership. Plans for town centres should give local authorities, communities and businesses the opportunity to work together to breathe new life into them. We have to accept that not every town centre can be saved in the way some people might want. We have to manage that change”.

She finished by saying “The majority of our high streets have changed forever and we will not be able to reinvent them as they once were. As a nation we have become obsessed with retail yet we have to accept that retail has changed and needs less high street space. Given these far-reaching changes, communities need to ask themselves hard questions about what they want from their local high street and work together to achieve that vision."

Civic Voice once again calls for the following measures to better protect our high streets:

  • Consider transferring business rates from out-of-town development to reduce rates in town centres
  • Introduce Secretary of State “exceptional sign off” for all new out-of-town developments
  • provide limited free parking
  • Introduce localised permitted development rights to make it easier for local planning authorities to control the mix of shops
  • free up councils to offer rate relief
  • tackle landlords who leave property vacant.


Civic Voice is the national charity for the civic movement. We lead and support civic societies as a national movement for quality of place, with people actively improving their towns, cities and villages and promote civic pride. We speak up for civic societies and local communities across England. We believe everyone should live somewhere they can be proud of and we know how people feel about places because we feel the same way. Civic societies are the most numerous participants in the planning system. Since its launch in April 2010 Civic Voice has been joined by over 290 civic societies with 75,000 members. Further information is available at how to join Civic Voice (£10 individuals) and contact details for local civic societies.

Ian Harvey, Civic Voice (m) 07877 096968