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New task force to assess UK high streets

Senior figures from the retail, banking and property sectors are to collaborate in a new task force designed to rejuvenate struggling town centres across the UK.

The Distressed Retail Property Taskforce has set itself a first task of finding out the extent of retail property indebtedness across the UK with the aim of reducing the amount of empty or dilapidated shops in UK towns and cities.

The taskforce will spend around six months gathering information to identify the true scale of the problem and those towns which are worst affected. It will then set about finding workable long-term solutions.

Members of the taskforce include the British Council of Shopping Centres, the British Property Federation and the Local Government Association. The group also features representation from Lloyds Bank, the Royal Bank of Scotland and the Booksellers Association.

Mark Williams, chairman of the taskforce said: "The Taskforce recognises that our high streets are going through a structural recalibration, rather than an economic cycle from which we will emerge over time.

"We have too many shops, the wrong size and under-invested. So the change in town centres that is required is significant and will require public and private sectors coming together to find ways of financing these changes.

"What we're talking about are essentially infrastructure projects that can future-proof our towns for the next 50 to 60 years."

Source : Retail Bulletin

29 October 2012
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