RTPI to form part of government's new high streets taskforce

The Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) has been appointed to take part in the government's new High Street Task Force, which was formally launched yesterday.

High streets: new government task force launched. (Image by Jeff Easter, Flickr)
High streets: new government task force launched. (Image by Jeff Easter, Flickr)

The task force is intended to give guidance and advice to local authorities across England seeking to cope with the effect of changing shopping habits.

The new body was announced in last year’s Budget statement, which said it will "provide hands-on support to local areas to develop innovative strategies to help high streets evolve".

At the time, ministers said the task force’s remit "will include the provision of planning experts" to advise on matters including "policy and design".

Officially launching the body yesterday, high streets minister Jake Berry MP said the task force will draw on expert advice, training and data to provide advice to councils applying for and receiving money from the Future High Streets Fund, also announced in the Budget. 

A consortium guiding the work of the Task Force will be led by the Institute of Place Management (IPM), based at Manchester Metropolitan University.

Alongside the RTPI, other bodies appointed include the Design Council, the Landscape Institute, the Association of Town and City Management, The BID Foundation and charity Civic Voice.

A Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government statement said the consortium of "high street experts" has "a wide range of knowledge and insight, including in planning and design".

"As part of this offer, local authorities will also be able to access up-to-date behavioural data that will provide insights into consumer habits," it adds.

According to an IPM spokesman, the task force will be piloted from November after a plan for work has been prepared over the summer.

Berry said: "High streets and the way we use them are changing, and this government is committed to helping communities to adapt.

"We want to see vibrant town centres where people live, shop, use services and spend their leisure time.

"But in order to evolve successfully, high streets must meet the needs of their local community and the key to this is strong local leadership."

The task force was created following recommendations from the High Streets Expert Panel chaired by businessman Sir John Timpson.

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