Last updated: 05.09.13

New govt training programme to improve nation's high streets

The UK government is launching a training initiative that will help towns mould their high streets so that they meet the changing needs of consumers.

Communities secretary Eric Pickles unveiled the programme on Monday (September 2nd) and announced it will be targeted at the leaders of the 350 'town teams' located around the country, which were named in retail expert Mary Portas' high street review.

Workshops will be organised by representatives from industry-leading organisations like the Association of Town and City Management and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies, covering topics such as partnership development, how to run a town team and the importance of footfall and business planning.

The training is also set to encourage towns to conduct regular high street health checks, come to a decision about what the town centre will offer residents and tourists and explain how authorities can make the most of planning permission and community rights to take over pubs or shops.

According to Mr Pickles, the new government project is allowing the nation's high streets to thrive in the digital age and the town teams must come together to plan what they want out of their centres, both now and in ten, 15 and 20 years' time.

He said: "There isn’t a one-size-fits-all model, but with the help of these dedicated local high street experts town teams will have the tools to make the changes they want and support the high streets of the future."

The scheme will run until 2015 and in the coming months, each of the featured towns will be provided with tailored support in areas like place branding, volunteering, understanding investors and developers and running a digital high street.

It is part of the coalition's ongoing efforts to rejuvenate Britain's high streets - in total it is spending £18 million on helping towns improve their centres and some of the funding has been awarded to the High Street Champions initiative launched by charity Business in the Community.