Out-of-town retailers and betting brands escape Portas clampdown

Mary Portas: carried out a review of the UK's high streets
Mary Portas: carried out a review of the UK's high streets

Out-of-town retailers and betting brands have avoided a clampdown by the Government after it decided not to impose stricter regulations proposed in a review by retail expert Mary Portas.

Grant Shapps, minister for housing and local government confirmed ministers have accepted the vast majority of Portas's recommendations, but stopped short of imposing secretary of state "exceptional sign off" for all new out-of-town developments.

Proposals to place betting shops in a separate "use class", which would have made it easier for local planning authorities to block betting shop applications – because they were not in a wider use class such as "retail" – have also been delayed, pending a further review.

However, Shapps did agree to the vast majority of the other 30 proposals put forward by retail guru Portas. In addition, the Government has also announced a multimillion-pound, high-street innovation fund, backed by £10m of taxpayers' money, focused on bringing empty shops back into use.

Other measures approved by Shapps include a further round of "Portas Pilots" to trial some of the TV star's recommendations, and come up with new ideas to "breathe life into underused high streets".

Shapps said: "I'm accepting virtually all of the recommendations from Mary Portas's review, but I'm also going that one step further, offering a 'Portas-Plus' deal, with a range of measures designed to help local people turn their high streets into the beating hearts of their communities once again.

"With internet shopping and out-of-town centres here to stay, they [high streets] must offer something new if they are to entice visitors back."

Follow Matthew Chapman at @mattchapmanUK

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