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The High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill, bill 25 of the 2023-24 session, was introduced to Parliament by Conservative MP Jack Brereton on 6 December 2023 as a Private Members’ Bill, presented to Parliament through the ballot procedure. The Government is supporting the Bill.

The Bill’s second reading in the Commons was on Friday 26 January 2024 and its committee stage was on Wednesday 13 March 2024Remaining stages of the Bill in the House of Commons took place on 26 April 2024, where Bill was passed unamended. Second reading of the Bill in the House of Lords is scheduled for 17 May 2024.

Explanatory Notes for the Bill have been published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities.

What does the Bill do?

The Bill would require local authorities in England to designate streets as high streets, either a single high street, or a network of high streets.

Local authorities would be required to publish an improvement plan setting out proposals for the preservation and enhancement of designated high streets. Local authorities would be required to review these plans every five years and to consider them when exercising planning functions.

Analysis undertaken by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities on the anticipated financial implications of the Bill states that projected public expenditure resulting from the Bill’s proposals would be no greater than £26 million every five years. The government have committed to funding the cost of up to three designations per local authority.

The Bill applies to England only.

Issues facing high streets

UK high streets and town centres have faced many problems in recent years, many of which can be linked to the changing face of the retail industry, though it also important to remember retail shops are only one component of high streets. Office for National Statistics (ONS) data indicates that in March 2020, around one third of addresses on British high streets were retail shops, while over half were residential, 10% were offices and 2-3% were leisure or community facilities.

The Centre for Retail Research has described the British retail industry as facing a “permacrisis” since the 2008 financial crisis, as a result of factors such as the rise of internet retailing, changes in consumer preferences, and store closures and other changes on the high street, many of which have been accelerated by the Coronavirus pandemic.

High street policy and funding for high streets

Government policy to support high streets is set out in the strategy for high street regeneration Build Back Better High Streets, published by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities in July 2021.

Challenges faced by high street retailers and associated problems of town centres have seen the creation of several initiatives and funding schemes designed to help high streets and town centres redevelop and adapt to a new era when traditional retail may no longer be the focal point of town centres. These include the Future High Streets Fund, High Street Heritage Action Zones, the Long Term Plan for Towns and High Street Accelerators, as well as the creation of the High Streets Task Force, an organisation composed of high street experts providing tailored guidance, support and resources to local authorities on high street issues.


The bill has received support from Members across the House and from the Government, though has been criticised by the Local Government Association (LGA) as being “an unnecessary bill” and “a distraction from what councils really need to protect and enhance the future of their high streets.”

Documents to download

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