The bill would require local authorities in England to designate at least one street or network of streets in their area as a high street. The bill would also require them to:

  • consult before making such a designation
  • prepare and publish a ‘high street improvement plan’ for each designated high street area in line with government-issued guidance, to include information on the condition of the precinct and proposals to preserve and enhance the area
  • consult on the improvement plan before publishing a final version
  • have regard to the improvement plan when exercising relevant planning functions
  • review designations and improvement plans every five years, publishing amended version of plans where necessary

The government has anticipated the cost of each local authority in England preparing up to three high street improvement plans to be no greater than £26mn every five years. At committee stage in the House of Commons the government committed to funding the cost of up to three plans per local authority and the House approved a money resolution to authorise this expenditure on 5 March 2024. The government has said local authorities would be able to designate more than three high streets on a voluntary basis, although they would need to fund any additional improvement plans required for further designations.

The bill has government support and passed the House of Commons on 26 April 2024. Second reading in the House of Lords is due to take place on 17 May 2024.

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