High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill Debate

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Department: Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill

Jacob Young Excerpts
2nd reading
Friday 26th January 2024

(3 months, 3 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Young Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Jacob Young)
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I congratulate my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) on his success in the ballot and his sponsorship of this important and worthwhile private Member’s Bill. His unwavering commitment and efforts to champion our high streets, including those he mentioned in his remarks, has led to this matter being raised in the House. I thank other hon. Members for backing the Bill. I confirm that the Bill has the Government’s full support.

There are arguably few more visible barometers of a healthy local economy, local pride and quality of life than our high streets. I know that all too well from my experience as the Member of Parliament for Redcar and Cleveland. Like my hon. Friend, I am privileged and proud to represent the area where I grew up, but one of the reasons why I came into politics was that my area, my community, my town and my high street felt like places that had been forgotten and left behind by the incumbent political regime.

It can be hard for people who move around a lot, or perhaps those who live in a busy city, to understand what it feels like when a place we care about and where we have deep roots seems to have lost its way, as my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North (James Daly) said. I remember, when I was growing up, walking into Boro town centre with my mam and dad and hearing about Uptons. It is probably how my niece and nephews feel now when I talk about Woolworths—although, as was said, it looks like Woolies may be coming back.

Our high streets are not just places where people shop and access goods and services; they are the heart of our community life. They are places where people come together. Their success is therefore vital to realising our ambitions to level up economic growth and opportunity across the country, both economically and socially. That is why the challenges that our town centres have been facing in recent years need to be taken seriously.

Some town centres have weathered dramatic shifts in consumer behaviour and the legacy of the pandemic, but many have struggled. We have seen the collapse of major high street retailers such as Debenhams, and high streets that were once the soul of our communities are now blighted by low footfall, high vacancy rates and antisocial behaviour. The Government are committed to working with local communities to help turn that around.

The Bill will play an important role in that mission, alongside other Government interventions, as part of a broader strategy to help high streets recalibrate themselves back towards their communities. That includes putting billions into high street regeneration and renewal, including: a new high street and towns taskforce as part of our long-term plan for towns; measures to bring vacant properties back into use and make town centres safer through a crackdown on antisocial behaviour; a new £2.5 million high street accelerator programme bringing together businesses and community organisations to develop a long-term vision for revitalising high streets; and significant planning flexibilities to ensure that they continue to thrive as centres where commerce and community meet.

We know that every high street is different and that local areas are best placed to understand their own problems and find the right solutions through strong local partnerships on the ground. Those partnerships are often key to transforming the fortunes of our town centres. We want to support councils as well as local businesses and local communities and ensure that they have everything they need to succeed, so that wherever someone is in the country, they have a high street that meets the needs of their community and one that they can be proud of.

In that vein, may I commend my hon. Friend the Member for Bolsover (Mark Fletcher), who explained to me the need for investment in Bolsover town centre? I am delighted that we were able to award Bolsover £15 million of levelling-up funding in the autumn statement in November. I hope that Bolsover can use that funding and this Bill to improve its high street.

One of the most important ways we can make that a reality for more communities is for councils to use their powers in order to drive improvements. That is the aim of this Bill. We know that, for example, section 215 powers, as mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South, which require land to be cleaned up when it is detracting from the surroundings, are not always deployed as well as they could be. That will only become more significant when the new high street rental auction powers are introduced later this year, which will further bolster the regeneration tools available to local authorities.

The Bill will require local authorities to designate at least one high street, and up to three, in their area and create plans to improve them, which should be published every five years. In choosing their high streets, local authorities will need to identify streets of specific economic, social and cultural importance in their area, assess their condition, and come up with plans to preserve and enhance them. Local residents, businesses, community organisations and others will rightly have a real say in those action plans, and the local council will be accountable for delivering them.

Kieran Mullan Portrait Dr Mullan
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Picking up on the remarks I made in my speech, what can we do to ensure that councils are designating and putting the work into high streets that need it, rather than picking ones that are, thankfully, flourishing and perhaps less in need of attention? Potentially, councils could seek to avoid doing the hard work that we want to be put into these designations.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
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We will work with local authorities and, no doubt, Members of this House to establish the right guidance for local authorities in choosing their high streets. They will also be subject to consultation, which I am about to talk about.

The Bill will require councils to consult on which high streets are chosen, and we have heard some early pitches today. It is exciting to imagine the difference that this could make: fewer empty shops, more people visiting high streets and staying longer, and a boost to local pride and people’s quality of life. As I said earlier, different areas have different challenges, so the improvements we can expect to see will vary. The focus in one area might be on tackling antisocial behaviour, whereas in another it could be on creating more green spaces to rest and socialise.

The Bill will create a duty on local authorities to take into account high street improvement plans when exercising their planning functions, which goes directly to the question from the shadow Minister, the hon. Member for Blaydon (Liz Twist). That will support the already strong protections for mixed-use high streets and complement the tools available to local authorities, such as the changes made to use class orders in 2020 to create the new commercial, business and service use class mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South. This brings together high street uses such as shops, restaurants and offices, and enables changes between these uses without planning applications.

The high street improvement plans will also reinforce measures in the national planning policy framework that require local plans and decision making to support town centres to adapt and grow over the long term. In addition, they will support the use of section 215 powers, requiring unsightly land or property to be cleaned up. We recognise that local areas will know best what their high street improvement plans should cover.

James Daly Portrait James Daly
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

Will my hon. Friend comment on what he defines as a high street? Bolton Street, in my constituency, backs on to the East Lancs railway, which is in the process of making an application for £3 million to the community ownership fund. It is not simply about the shops on a high street; heritage projects and others in the immediate vicinity can benefit from Government money in driving regeneration as well.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
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We have already heard examples of how high streets could be defined from my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South, but I look forward to such an application to the community ownership fund. I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North for his regular plugs for the fund.

Once the Bill has received Royal Assent, we will issue guidance on developing improvement plans. We would, of course, welcome any input on what the guidance should contain from hon. Members or other interested parties. We recognise that it takes time to implement plans and see their impact. At the same time, it is important that the plans are meaningful and that they will not be neglected and left to gather dust. We believe that five years for reviewing and, if necessary, updating the improvement plans strikes the right balance, allowing enough time for them to take effect while ensuring that they remain relevant and central to the renewal and reinvigoration of our high streets. This is very much about local residents, businesses and communities seeing visible, meaningful improvements, but we recognise that that must not come at the cost of overburdening councils that are already under pressure. We will therefore ensure that local authorities have the extra funding they need to deliver the measures in the Bill effectively.

As I said earlier, the Bill builds on the extensive range of support we are already providing to truly level up our high streets, with local people in the driving seat.

Edward Leigh Portrait Sir Edward Leigh
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

On his point about putting local people in the driving seat, will the Minister assure me that any powers or resources given to the Mayor of Lincolnshire will not suck resources away from West Lindsey District Council, which is the primary promoter of improvements on our high streets?

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
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I was going to come to that, but my right hon. Friend has brought it to my attention sooner. He mentions the landmark devolution deal for Greater Lincolnshire and that it comes with a Mayor, but he fails to mention the three quarters of a billion pounds that comes with that deal. I can assure him that we are giving more power and funding to communities like his in Greater Lincolnshire, and I urge him to support the introduction of a Mayor, which will be transformational for Greater Lincolnshire.

We are giving local authorities more support to truly level up their high streets. That support means more money, and we are investing billions of pounds in high streets that are sorely in need of a helping hand to get back on their feet. That includes our £1.1 billion long-term plan for towns—I am grateful to the shadow Minister for plugging that in her remarks—launched in October, which will power ambitious regeneration projects across the UK over the next decade. Through the plan, each town will develop a long-term plan for regeneration based on the priorities of local people, and receive a 10-year endowment-style fund worth £20 million to deliver transformational projects, from boosting the look and feel of town centres to protecting local heritage, as was mentioned by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South, to cracking down on anti-social behaviour. The plan will also establish a new high streets and towns taskforce to provide hands-on support and expert advice on place making, planning and design.

Our new towns unit, which was announced last week, headed by Adam Hawksbee, the Prime Minister’s towns tsar, will ensure that local leaders have the control they need over decision making. This funding comes on top of the £2.35 billion we are investing through our town deals, £830 million in future high streets funding and the £4.8 billion being invested into communities through the levelling-up fund, unlocking the economic potential of communities across the country, like mine in Redcar.

In Redcar, £25 million of funding is being invested through the town deal in regenerating the high street, demolishing the old Woolworths and M&S buildings, and creating a new leisure facility on the high street, as well as rejuvenating our much-loved seafront. Down the road in Eston, some of the £20 million of levelling-up funding we received is being invested in regenerating Eston Square and the precinct buildings. Not long after I was elected, I was given a book about the history of Eston by the former councillor, Ann Higgins. In the book, there was a picture of Mo Mowlam, one of my predecessors as MP for Redcar, meeting residents and businesses at the old James Finnigan Hall to discuss the deterioration of Eston town centre. More than two decades and four Members of Parliament later, we are finally delivering on that.

The funding demonstrates to the people of those towns, and others like them across the UK, that we are keeping the faith with them and delivering on the things that matter most to them. As I updated the House late last year, we have so far invested over £13 billion through all our levelling-up funding streams in regenerating communities nationwide, delivering real change in communities like Bury. I am so pleased that my hon. Friend the Member for Bury North plugged the community ownership fund in the way he did. His constituency has benefited from £1.5 million of investment directly into communities there, on top of the levelling-up funding of £20 million for Bury market and the flexi-hall.

Communities in Crewe and Nantwich are benefitting from £37 million through the towns fund and the future high streets fund. I was surprised to hear from my hon. Friends the Members for Crewe and Nantwich (Dr Mullan) and for Congleton (Fiona Bruce) about Labour’s new car parking charges. Sadly, Labour has done the same in Redcar, and I urge my hon. Friends to keep up their campaign on behalf of constituents and businesses in their communities.

I am grateful to the hon. Member for Belfast East (Gavin Robinson) for referencing the investment in his constituency, including in his cinema, and talking about the value of partnership working. My hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South, whose Bill this is, mentioned the levelling-up partnership for Stoke. I assure him that, on top of the other funding that Stoke has already received, Longton remains part of our focus for the partnership.

Funding alone is not enough. To deliver real change, we are giving local people the power they need to make decisions on the ground about the future of their communities. The Levelling-up and Regeneration Act introduces high street rental auctions to drive forward regeneration through changes to compulsory purchase powers; provides more flexible pavement licences for businesses; empowers local people to tackle symptoms of decline by bringing vacant units back into use; increases co-operation on regeneration between landlords and local authorities; and makes town centre tenancies more accessible and affordable, helping to attract new businesses to these areas and supporting the creation of new jobs and growth to sustain prosperity in the long term.

We are also making it a priority to get the fundamentals right. Tackling the causes and impacts of antisocial behaviour is key to ensuring that people feel safe, which is why we are using our wider antisocial behaviour action plan, published in March 2023, to make the heart of our towns better places to be. Measures to tackle the visual markers of decline include reopening boarded-up shops, improving the look and feel of public spaces, and giving tired public buildings a lick of paint. This includes the high street accelerator programme that I have the pleasure of leading, which will bring together businesses, residents and community organisations to develop a long-term vision for revitalising their town centre. Each of the 10 pilot schemes we have launched in towns such as Oldham, Scunthorpe and neighbouring Stoke will receive funding of £237,000 over two years to set up the partnership, develop the vision and begin to deliver change.

We have introduced significant planning flexibilities, so that local decision makers can make better use of the buildings in their town centre and ensure that our high streets remain places of social and commercial activity. Permitted development provides the freedom to change more premises from commercial to residential use, so that much needed homes can be created on high streets and in town centres.

Whether we are talking about smarter use of planning levers, getting boarded-up shops back up and running, making our streets safer, or investing billions in our town centres, we are breathing new life into our high streets, with local leaders, local people and businesses who know and love their communities best driving the changes that they know are needed to make a difference. The Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South builds on these significant efforts, and we are proud to support it. Like him, I appreciate just how much it matters to communities of the kind we represent. For them and for communities right across the country, this is about delivering on the commitments we have made to level up growth, opportunity and pride. We are sticking to our plans and staying the course, commencing the measures in the Bill at the appropriate time once the Bill has Royal Assent, and ensuring that local authorities have the right lead-in time and guidance to designate their high streets and create their improvement plans.

I am enormously grateful to my hon. Friend for introducing the Bill and to other hon. Members for their support and contributions during this debate. We are backing the Bill and backing our high streets. I commend the Bill to the House.

High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill: Money Debate

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Department: Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill: Money

Jacob Young Excerpts
Money resolution
Tuesday 5th March 2024

(2 months, 2 weeks ago)

Commons Chamber
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Jacob Young Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Jacob Young)
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I beg to move,

That, for the purposes of any Act resulting from the High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill, it is expedient to authorise the payment out of money provided by Parliament of any increase attributable to the Act in the sums payable under any other Act out of money so provided.

The Government fully support the Bill introduced by my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) to improve our nation’s high streets.

Roger Gale Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Sir Roger Gale)
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

The question is as on the Order Paper—

High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill Debate

Full Debate: Read Full Debate
Department: Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill

Jacob Young Excerpts
None Portrait The Chair
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Are all colleagues happy? Right. I call the Minister.

Jacob Young Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Jacob Young)
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Thank you, Sir Charles. It is a pleasure to serve under your chairmanship. I am grateful for the leadership of my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South on this issue, and I am pleased to speak in the Committee on this important Bill.

As my hon. Friend laid out, the Bill will ensure that local authorities effectively use their powers to support high streets in their areas to perform well, and to drive improvements where that is not the case. This will be a valuable tool in enabling us to meet our ambition of creating thriving high streets and town centres. I am sure it will come as no surprise to my hon. Friend that I support all the amendments he has tabled. They are largely technical in nature, but they are important to ensure that the Bill has its intended effect of strengthening high streets across the country.

Clause 1 introduces a new duty on local authorities to designate high streets in their area, meaning that local authorities will need to carefully consider and identify streets of specific economic, social and cultural importance in their area that may require particular attention to ensure that they are performing well.

Amendments 1 and 3 to 8 will ensure that local authorities are able to designate a network of streets in their area, as well as a single street or part of a street, as a high street for the purposes of the Bill. That will ensure that high streets made up of a crossroads or a flow of streets are not overlooked or misrepresented. While technical in nature, the amendments are important to the Bill’s effectiveness and reflective of how people view their high street. They will mean that streets such as Nottingham Road, between Loughborough town centre and the station, could be brought into scope. In my constituency, they will mean that the High Street in Redcar can also include Station Road and Queen Street.

--- Later in debate ---
Jack Brereton Portrait Jack Brereton
- Hansard - - - Excerpts

I thank the officials.

Jacob Young Portrait Jacob Young
- Hansard - -

I would like to thank the officials.

Question put and agreed to.

Bill, as amended, accordingly to be reported.

High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill Debate

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Department: Department for Levelling Up, Housing & Communities

High Streets (Designation, Review and Improvement Plan) Bill

Jacob Young Excerpts
Jacob Young Portrait The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (Jacob Young)
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I thank my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South (Jack Brereton) for his leadership on this very important and worthwhile private Member’s Bill, and for his unwavering commitment and efforts to champion our high streets.

This has been a fantastic debate. We have learnt a lot about the heritage of different high streets: Thomas Brown Street, in the constituency of the hon. Member for North Tyneside (Mary Glindon), was named in honour of the world war two hero who retrieved the enigma codes at sea; the 800-year-old high street in Basingstoke was the home of the author Jane Austen; the 126 years of Rowells in Stapleford; and the most famous high street in the world, Oxford Street, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster (Nickie Aiken). We also heard about the towns fund in Broxtowe, which has given £21.1 million to Stapleford, and the transforming cities fund in North Tyneside, which has contributed towards its new transport hub and piazza. Sadly, we did not hear from the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston (Justin Madders) about the levelling-up fund, which has given £13.4 million to transform Ellesmere Port town centre.

As we heard in the debate, everyone here recognises that healthy and vibrant high streets are vital not only for local economies, but for the quality of life and pride of local communities. However, the challenges currently faced by our high streets are significant, whether from the lingering impact of covid-19 on footfall or the ever-present challenge of competition with online retailers. While some have been able to weather the storm, many have struggled. The Government are committed to working with local communities to help turn that around. The Bill will play an important role in that mission, alongside other Government interventions, as part of our broader strategy to help high streets reinvent themselves. They include injecting billions of pounds into high street regeneration and renewal, including the long-term plan for towns, which will invest £1.5 billion across 75 towns to give them the tools they need to build a better future for local people.

One of the towns selected as part of our long-term plan for towns is Canvey, in the constituency of my hon. Friend the Member for Castle Point (Rebecca Harris). Canvey, like all the 75 towns in our long-term plan for towns, will receive £20 million over the next 10 years to invest in local people’s priorities. I take this opportunity to thank my hon. Friend, who has for so long championed the people of Canvey Island. Without her advocacy and brilliant campaigning, we would not be able to give them that £20 million cash.

Our long-term plan for towns will sit alongside high street rental auctions, which will require landlords to rent out vacant commercial properties to willing tenants such as local businesses. That will help to create lively high streets with increased footfall. Of course, no high street is the same, with local areas best placed to find solutions to local problems, which is why strong local partnerships on the ground are key to successful regeneration. We want to support councils, local businesses and local communities to give them the resources and powers they need. I think of high streets in my own constituency, such as those in Redcar, Marske, Eston or Normanby.

Normanby is probably the smallest of the towns I have just mentioned. At the moment, it is beset with roadworks that are expected to continue for around three months. That is already having a huge impact on local businesses. It is important, obviously, that when local authorities plan such major roadworks, they give serious consideration to the damage they can do to local businesses. Mr Deputy Speaker, I cannot mention Normanby High Street without thinking of the late Kenny Surtees, who for as long I can remember had a card shop on that street. I think he would have had a few choice things to say to the local Teesside Gazette about how those roadworks are going.

The Government recognise that many local authorities have regeneration strategies already in place, but the Bill will make the designation of high streets and the creation of high street improvement plans a statutory requirement. That will ensure local authorities not only prioritise the health of their high streets, but use their available powers to drive forward improvements, such as section 215 powers, to require land to be cleaned up when it is detracting from the surroundings.

The Bill will require each local authority to designate at least one high street or network of streets in their area. Local authorities will be able to designate as many high streets as they want. However, the Government have committed to funding the costs of up to three high street designations. Any designation beyond that number would have to be funded by the local authority itself. Local authorities will then have to create plans for the designated high streets, which should be reviewed at least every five years. Local residents, businesses, community organisations and others, including Members of Parliament, will rightly have a real say on the action plans, and the local authority will be accountable for delivering them.

Accordingly, the Bill will require local authorities to consult on which high streets are chosen. Different areas will have different challenges, so the improvements we can expect to see will vary. The focus in one area might be on tackling antisocial behaviour—again, something we have heard about in the debate, and we have heard some fantastic examples of what police and crime commissioners are doing to tackle it—while in others it could be creating more green spaces to rest and socialise. What is crucial, however, is flexibility to ensure that local authorities have the agency to enact the best change for their area.

The Bill will also create a duty on local authorities to take into account high street improvement plans when exercising their planning functions. That will support the already strong protections for mixed-use high streets and the complementing tools available to authorities, such as changes to the use classes order in 2020 to create the commercial, business and service use class—class E.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank hon. Members for their suggestions for strengthening the Bill during its passage through the House. We worked with my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South to make some small amendments in Committee so that the Bill is as effective as possible. Those changes included ensuring that local authorities can make as many high street designations as they wish, with the Government funding up to three of those designations. That will give local authorities with a large number of high streets the flexibility needed to designate more than three, if they desire. I note my hon. Friend’s point that Stoke-on-Trent is a city of six towns, so there will clearly be more than three high streets that the local authority might want to intervene in.

We have also updated the wording of the Bill to allow for the designation of a network of streets, as mentioned by the hon. Member for Ellesmere Port and Neston, as the Government recognise that high streets are complex ecosystems that are not always limited to one street, but could be made up of a network of connecting streets.

Additionally, the Bill now sets out that local authorities must review their improvement plans at least once in every five-year period, with guidance to follow up on the circumstances in which local authorities should consider undertaking a review, such as where the area of the designated high street is expanded or reduced. That will ensure that plans remain meaningful and relevant. Following Royal Assent, we will issue guidance on developing the improvement plans.

The Government recognise that local authorities are best placed to know what their high street improvement plans should cover. Officials in my Department have already begun outreach with local authorities on the guidance and will continue to work with local authorities and other stakeholders as the guidance is developed. It is important that the plans are not left to gather dust but remain constantly relevant, as the hon. Gentleman reminded us. That is why the Bill requires local authorities to update their plans at least every five years, which we believe strikes the right balance between giving the plans enough time to have a meaningful effect and ensuring that they remain relevant to the reinvigoration of our high streets. We recognise that the measures should not come at the cost of overburdening councils that are already under pressure. As I have already mentioned, we will ensure that local authorities have the extra funding they need to be able to deliver the measures in the Bill effectively.

I am grateful that proposed new clause 1 was not moved on Report, as it would have removed all permitted development rights, not just those that change the use from commercial to residential lettings. I appreciate that that is a challenge in the constituency of the hon. Member for St Albans (Daisy Cooper), and I note that the LGA has echoed her concerns. I will meet both of them as the Bill progresses to understand the issues further and see what can be done to mitigate them.

As already stated, the Bill forms one part of a broader strategy to help regenerate and level up our high streets. Part of the solution is funding, with the Government investing billions of pounds into helping high streets navigate the difficult environment they face. The latest of that funding is the £1.5 billion long-term plan for towns, which will power ambitious regeneration projects over the next decade.

However, it is not simply about funding. With the Levelling-up and Regeneration Act 2023, we gave local authorities new powers to reduce vacancies in their high streets through high street rental auctions. That will help to create lively high streets with increased footfall and activity that attracts people and businesses, increases pride in place and avoids the long-term presence of vacancies.

The development of strong partnerships, be it between national and local government, or between local businesses and communities, will be vital to the regeneration of our high streets. One such partnership is the high street accelerator programme, which I have the pleasure of leading and which will bring together businesses, residents and community organisations, with their local authority, to develop a long-term vision for revitalising town centres.

In addition, we have introduced significant planning flexibilities so that local decision makers can better manage the use of buildings in town centres and ensure that high streets remain places of commercial and social activity. That includes by converting class E properties; allowing a change of use without the need for individual planning applications; and using permitted development rights to introduce movable structures in pubs, cafés and restaurants, and to allow local authorities to hold outdoor markets. Permitted development also provides freedom to change more premises from commercial to residential use, so that much-needed new homes can be created in high streets and town centres, providing a mix of users, as my hon. Friend the Member for Cities of London and Westminster led on during her time as leader of Westminster City Council.

Alongside that, as I have mentioned, we are investing in our high streets across the country, with £15 billion of levelling-up funding since 2019 going to communities the length and breadth of the UK, including in Hyndburn and Haslingden, where my hon. Friend the Member for Hyndburn (Sara Britcliffe) has secured more than £50 million for her area. She has undoubtedly been the best MP that her constituency has had. I was pleased to visit it recently to see the historic town hall and the plans for the market hall, where, before serving as the MP, she used to have a stall, if I recall correctly. She is a brilliant champion for her constituents and I am pleased that we are able to help support her area.

Another area we are supporting is Nuneaton, which is also significantly benefiting from Government funding. I know that is particularly welcomed by the Deputy Chief Whip, my right hon. Friend the Member for Nuneaton (Mr Jones). It is receiving a town deal worth more than £23 million and future high streets funding of more than £13 million, thanks to his advocacy. As part of that funding, we will help to build Grayson Place, which is named after Nuneaton’s famous Larry Grayson. His famous phrase, “Shut that door!”, has a particular significance for me as the MP for Redcar. This is disputed by the Deputy Chief Whip, but the first time Larry Grayson said that was when he was doing a tour in Redcar and the wind from the seafront kept banging the door on Redcar pier—he said “Shut that door!” and so it became. I hope that the good people of Nuneaton will use their vote next week to back their fantastic Conservative council to finish the job and continue to improve their area.

Of course, I could not omit to mention Stoke-on-Trent, which has had not one, not two, but three successful bids for levelling-up funding, as well as a levelling-up partnership, and I know that my hon. Friend the Member for Stoke-on-Trent South is keen to see investment in Longton. Stoke-on-Trent has never had such a focus from any Government, and I credit him for all his campaigning as a great MP over the past seven years.

To conclude, this Government are fully committed to breathing new life into our high streets, whether that is through the long-term plan for towns, the high street rental auctions or this Bill. Like my hon. Friend, I appreciate just how much this matters to the communities that we represent. Again, I offer my gratitude to him for introducing this Bill, to the Members who have supported it throughout the entirety of its Commons stages, to the Clerks and to my fab team of officials, who have helped with the Bill. I also pay tribute to the many fantastic council officers, who are often unnamed and unknown but who work day in, day out to improve their communities. The Government are backing this Bill and backing our high streets to navigate this period of change and emerge stronger for it. I look forward to supporting the Bill from the sidelines as it progresses through the other place and eagerly anticipate its becoming law.

Nigel Evans Portrait Mr Deputy Speaker (Mr Nigel Evans)
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If there is a Division later, perhaps after 10 minutes I should say, in Larry Grayson’s memory, “Lock that door!” I might give it a go. [Laughter.] With the leave of the House, I call Jack Brereton.