The twelve towns that won a share of £1.2m from Government as part of the ‘Portas Pilot’ scheme were announced yesterday.
This is an initiative that seeks to fund the revitalisation of our High Streets in order to promote greater foot fall. This, it is hoped, will counter the decline of traditional town centres who are suffering in the face of out of town shopping centres and online shopping.
Now, knowing our penchant for having a pop at High Street estate agents, this should be a blog about the impeding further disintegration of your favourite shopping parade as a consequence of the numerous local estate agency branches shutting for business. 2000 have closed since 2008, according to Ordnance Survey.
But it’s not.
The announcement yesterday saw £100,000 going to the following towns.
Bedford, Bedfordshire; Croydon, Greater London; Dartford, Kent; Bedminster, Bristol; Liskeard, Cornwall; Margate, Kent; Market Rasen, Lincolnshire; Nelson. Lancashire; Newbiggin by the Sea, Northumberland; Stockport, Greater Manchester; Stockton on Tees, Teesside and Wolverhampton, West Midlands were selected. Another dozen needy locations will be announced in July and the Greater London Authority will be backing a further three in the capital.
We back anything that enthuses commerce. Creating economic activity and jobs is always a good thing for the housing market. Doing better means that people are more inclined to buy a house or trade up.
But there’s a further, less obvious benefit to this injection of money into our High Streets and that is one whereby better town centres mean a more desirable perception of a town altogether. Higher occupation rates means a far more positive aesthetic. It means more people buzzing around and a general feeling of well being.
Seen in property terms that can only mean that an area becomes more desirable. What follows is demand and rising prices. So maybe the Government might want to push a bit more into this scheme and cover every town in the UK?
Sounds too expensive?
House values underpin the economy. Rising prices ensure that people feel confident enough to spend money. Subsidising town centres might therefore well be the sprat to catch the mackerel that would assist in kick starting our country’s finances.
Just a thought.