Saturday, 14 May 2011

Improving the town and district centres

Before the elections I had been working with Councillor Epps on improving the town and district centres following on from the New Economics Foundation's recent clone town league table following on from other clone town work -- where Reading didn't do too well.

At the last meeting of the Corporate, Community and External Affairs scrutiny panel the following recommendations were passed:

"The Panel welcomes as I am work being undertaken that will help ensure Reading retains and enhances retail diversity, such as the development of an independent quarter, policy RC11 of the Reading Central Area Action Plan designed to retain small shop units under 75 sq m, and the 'Uniquely Reading' theme.

The Panel recommends that Cabinet, in association as appropriate with the Planning Applications and Licensing Committees:

1. Continuously works to ensure its policies actively promote local independent retailers and markets, as an important part of the diversity and retail offer of the Borough, including active promotion through Reading UK CIC;

2. Works to identify resources and seek opportunities (in conjunction with the voluntary and community sector, and in consultation with local communities) for a re-imagined high street project in the Borough, where people help planners create a re-invigorated community in a local centre;

3. Investigates the development of distinctiveness indicators that could be used to guide Council policies including site-specific planning briefs, alongside the power of well-being and the sustainability indicators embedded in local planning policies;

4. Continues to seek opportunities to effectively balance the needs of businesses and the growing number of residents in the Town Centre through appropriate participatory bodies;

5. Writes to the Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills to call on him to establish a Local Competition Ombudsman as recommended by the Competition Commission regarding the monopoly power of the big four grocery chains."

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