KPMG proposal gives Hope for the High Street

KPMG proposal gives Hope for the High Street

KPMG today proposes a new kind of partnership vehicle to tackle Britain’s failing town centres.

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Town centres remain essential hubs for our communities, but the retail core is smaller than it once was, and is typically surrounded by under-occupied buildings and a grim environment.

The average level of shop vacancies on our high streets remains at around 13 per cent, with vacancy levels as high as 28% in Newport, Stoke and Hartlepool*. Fragmented property ownerships and a lack of joined-up thinking, among other factors, have hindered progress to date.

The partnership vehicle proposed will unblock the obstacle of fragmented ownership within a designated part of a town, and enable physical change. It will promote a more flexible mix of uses, as a catalyst for wider regeneration. As part of this, it will increase the provision of affordable homes within the town centre, helping tackle the housing crisis for those hardest hit.

The key elements of the proposal include:

  • Each property owner within the designated area will be encouraged to convert their individual property, at current market value, into a percentage financial interest in a regeneration vehicle, which owns the portfolio of ‘pooled’ property in the area
  • An experienced management team will be appointed to work with the local authority to commission a development masterplan for the regeneration area, secure planning consent, raise funding and deliver change
  • The vehicle’s design will draw on features from the Business Improvement District, Development Corporation and Elected Business Council models. The precise design is to be formed and will depend on local circumstances
  • The aim is to secure voluntary agreement for participation by landowners and occupiers, by making a compelling and financially attractive case. Local authority-supported Compulsory Purchase Order powers will only be used as the ultimate back-stop to prevent ransom positions, where voluntary agreement is not reached within a defined timetable
  • The vehicle will take responsibility for the long-term estate management of the new neighbourhood. Once income-producing, alternative liquidity routes for shareholders can be explored, including the injection of new institutional investment, or the involvement of a Real Estate Investment Trust
  • To help wider regeneration, the local authority will be encouraged to improve the surrounding public realm, including car parking and traffic management measures

The proposal was authored by Stephen Barter, Chairman of Real Estate Advisory at KPMG, who recently co-led discussions on regeneration during the Government’s Northern Powerhouse tour to South East Asia, and is currently involved in several large-scale regeneration projects across the UK.

Commenting on the proposals, Stephen said: “Our town centres are currently failing their communities. We have therefore proposed an innovative solution. Government appears keen to support change – we must now define the means for that change and harness the right skills to make it happen.”

“I believe the benefits of a partnership model are clear not only for landowners, tenants and the local community, but also for the wider economy. If we can kick start our town centres to become vibrant, mixed use, desirable places to be and to invest in, we will have won a real victory for the UK economy.”The full report, published today, can be downloaded from the KPMG website:

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Notes to Editors

*BCSC/LDC Shopping Centre Vacancy Monitor July 2015


For media enquiries please contact:

Frances Shennan, Corporate Communications, KPMGT

T: 0121 335 2575


For queries on the proposal, please contact:

Stephen BarterChairman Real Estate Advisory


KPMG Press office: +44 (0)207 694 8773

Follow us on twitter: @kpmguk


About KPMG

KPMG LLP, a UK limited liability partnership, operates from 22 offices across the UK with approximately 12,000 partners and staff.  The UK firm recorded a turnover of £1.9 billion in the year ended September 2014. KPMG is a global network of professional firms providing Audit, Tax, and Advisory services. It operates in 155 countries and has 162,000 professionals working in member firms around the world. The independent member firms of the KPMG network are affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative ("KPMG International"), a Swiss entity.  Each KPMG firm is a legally distinct and separate entity and describes itself as such.

This article represents the views of the author only, and does not necessarily represent the views or professional advice of KPMG in the UK.

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