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06/02/2012 - 'Portas Pilots' to Aid Struggling High Streets

Housing Minister Grant Shapps has launched a £1 million competition to help support 12 struggling towns and cities across England.

The competition will select 12 towns to become 'Portas Pilots', with the winners benefiting from a share of £1 million to help turn around their "unloved and unused" high streets.

Bids should fulfil the first and last recommendations of retail guru Mary Portas' High Streets Review and will need to demonstrate how they plan to breathe new life into their high streets and shopping parades. Mr Shapps would also like to see their pitches in short YouTube clips. Successful applicants will be given financial backing as well as advice from a Whitehall Team and Mary Portas.

The 12 successful towns will create Town Teams made up of the key players in their local community, such as the council, local landlord, shopkeepers and the local MP.

Grant Shapps said:

"Our high streets have faced stiff competition from Internet shopping, and out-of-town shopping centres - leaving them underused, unloved and under-valued. The Internet is not going to go away, and so for our high streets to survive they need to offer something new and exciting.

"So today I'm offering a golden ticket to 12 town centres across the country to become 'Portas Pilots' - areas with the vision and enthusiasm to breathe new life into what should be the beating heart of their communities, and they will get Mary's and my support as they try out the ideas in her recent review."

Mary Portas said:

"I hope my Review has inspired people with another vision of tomorrow where our high streets are re-imagined as destinations for socializing, culture, well being, learning as well as shopping. I want the first twelve Town Teams to challenge the old ways of working, experiment, take risks and reaffirm their place at the heart of a community. A place we all want to be and can be proud of."

The closing date for applications is 30 March 2012. For more information, click here (opens new window).

Source: Communities and Local Government, 06/02/12

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