Mary’s method: 28 steps to save the high street

● Put in place a “town team” – a visionary, strategic and strong operational management team for high streets

● Empower successful business improvement districts to take on more responsibilities and powers and become “super-BIDs”

● Legislate to allow landlords to become high-street investors by contributing to their business improvement districts

● Establish a new “national market day” where budding shopkeepers can try their hand at operating a low-cost retail business

● Make it easier for people to become market traders by removing unnecessary regulations so that anyone can trade on the high street unless there is a valid reason why not

● Government should consider whether business rates can better support small businesses and independent retailers

● Local authorities should use their new discretionary powers to give business rate concessions to new local businesses

● Make business rates work for business by reviewing the use of the retail price index with a view to changing the calculation to the consumer price index

● Local areas should implement free controlled parking schemes that work for their town centres and we should have a new parking league table

● Town teams should focus on making high streets accessible, attractive and safe

● Government should include high street deregulation as part of their ongoing work on freeing up red tape

● Address the restrictive aspects of the “use class” system to make it easier to change the uses of key properties on the high street

● Put betting shops into a separate “use class” of their own

● Make explicit a presumption in favour of town centre development in the wording of the national planning policy framework

● Introduce secretary of state “exceptional sign off” for all new out-of-town developments and require all large new developments to have an “affordable shops” quota

● Large retailers should support and mentor local businesses and independent retailers

● Retailers should report on their support of local high streets in their annual report

● Encourage a contract of care between landlords and their commercial tenants by promoting the leasing code and supporting the use of lease structures other than upward-only rent reviews, especially for small businesses

● Explore further disincentives to prevent landlords from leaving units vacant

● Banks who own empty property on the high street should either administer these assets well or be required to sell them

● Local authorities should make more proactive use of compulsory purchase order powers to encourage the redevelopment of key high street retail space

● Empower local authorities to step in when landlords are negligent with new “empty shop management orders”

● Introduce a public register of high street landlords

● Run a high profile campaign to get people involved in neighbourhood plans

● Promote the inclusion of the high street in neighbourhood plans

● Developers should make a financial contribution to ensure that the local community has a strong voice in the planning system

● Support imaginative community use of empty properties through community right to buy, meanwhile use and a new “community right to try”

● Run a number of high street pilots to test proof of concept