By Marcus Leach

Mary Portas has today (Tuesday) set out her vision to breathe economic and community life back into town centres.

Her review makes ambitious recommendations on what can be done — by government, local authorities and business — to help high streets deliver something new.

Suggestions include:

- strengthening the management of high streets through new ‘town teams’
- ensuring a strong town-centre-first approach in planning and encouraging large retailers to show their support for high streets
- looking at disincentives for landlords leaving properties vacant and - empowering local authorities to step-in when landlords are negligent

Ms Portas recommends that her suggestions are piloted in a number of areas.

The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister commissioned the report in May after figures showed town centre vacancy rates doubling in the space of two years.

“The high street should be at the very heart of every community, bringing people together, providing essential services and creating jobs and investment; so it is vital that we do all that we can to ensure they thrive," David Cameron said.

“I am delighted that Mary Portas has produced such a clear vision of how we can create vibrant and diverse town centres and breathe life back into our high streets. The Government will now review Mary’s recommendations and we will publish our response next spring.”

The report is published alongside new Government-commissioned research, ‘Understanding High Street Performance’, which shows that:

- a third are degenerating or failing
- by 2014 less than 40% of retail spending will be on the high street
- over the last decade out of town retail floor space has risen by 30% while in town has shrunk by 14%

The Government is already taking action to help local shops, including extending small business rate relief and cutting National Insurance for employers.

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