“Queen of Shops” Mary Portas has failed to tackle some of the key issues affecting the viability of retailers in her review of British High Streets, according to a Birmingham property expert.
While there were some initiatives such as ‘Super BIDs’ and ‘Town Teams’ to help manage and promote High Streets that GVA’s Paul Brewer believes could be easily implemented, there were other more fundamental problems that the review overlooked.
He said: “Mary appears to have overlooked the fact that financial institutions own many blocks of retail and offices accommodation within town centres and rely on the growth of such investments to create and maintain value for pension funds, from which we all benefit.
“The suggestion therefore that such landlords should look to accept reducing rentals - allowing tenants to take leases for minimal periods in order to ‘trial’ their business’ - would lead to a vast reduction in investment values.
"This would have a detrimental impact on the level of pensions payable, both now and in the future.
“However, it is already the case that landlords are being as pro-active as they can to encourage occupancy by letting their shops on short term tenancies to discount and other retailers who, whilst possibly only paying a nominal rent, are in turn also paying the business rates.
"In that regard Portas’s suggestion that landlords should continue to benefit from the Government’s three month rates relief if their shops are occupied is to be commended and may lead to more opportunities for entrepreneurs.
Mr Brewer said the other area of concern was Portas’s suggestion of local authorities providing free customer car parking within town centres to mirror the out of town centres.
He said that whilst agreeing with the sentiment, most local authorities relied on the revenue from car parking to off-set short falls from lack of central funding.