Communities Secretary Eric Pickles has set a £1bn package of support for the UK’s high streets.
Launched on 6 December and part of the government’s long-term economic plan, the package aims to create more jobs by “backing British business”.
Aiming to help Britain’s high streets grow, the measures include a new consultation to “tackle aggressive parking policies”, according to the Department for Communities and Local Government. A review of double yellow lines will also be held, legislating to allow “grace periods”, and stopping CCTV being used for enforcement.
The government will also cap increases in parking penalty charges for the rest of this Parliament, with immediate effect.
It is hoped that these steps will make it cheaper and easier to park, encouraging people to shop locally, and assist with the cost of living.
Following the Chancellor’s Autumn Statement last week, Pickles has announced a £1,000 discount in 2014 to 2015, and 2015 to 2016 for retail premises with a rateable value of up to £50,000. This includes shops, pubs, cafés, and restaurants.
The Retail Price Index (RPI) will be capped to 2% in 2014 to 2015, and the doubling of the Small Business Rates Relief will be extended to April 2015.
Furthermore, a re-occupation relief for 18 months, with a 50% discount for new occupants of retail premises empty for a year or more, will be implemented.
Businesses will also be allowed to pay their bills over 12 months, rather than 10, easing cash-flow.
Elsewhere, the importance of online technology is being recognised with a new multi-million-pound competition, run by the Technology Strategy Board, being announced to support business-led digital town centres.
Additionally, the government, in partnership with business, will fund £4.7m of research on e-commerce and digital high street innovations.
The government will also consult on allowing installation of mezzanine floors in retail premises where this would support the town centre.
Pickles said: “The way we use our high streets is changing and the measures unveiled today give councils more power to reflect that in the way their high streets look and operate.
“New tax breaks for shops and sensible changes to over-zealous parking rules will help make high streets more attractive to shoppers.”
Patrick McLoughlin, Transport Secretary, added: “Unfair parking fines blight the use of our high streets and force shoppers out of towns.
“We want to rein back aggressive rules by banning the use of CCTV for parking enforcement, reviewing the use of yellow lines, and giving shoppers a ‘grace period’ to get back to their car after their ticket has run out before they get fined.”