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Modernisation training for town planners

Town planning across the country is set to receive a considerable boost, with the Department for Communities and Local Government delivering a new dedicated team of local experts to help councils to modernise.Communities secretary Eric Pickles unveiled the plans this week (August 2nd) that will provide training and mentoring for up to 350 'town teams' up and down the UK over the coming months, with the groups' responsibilities to include modernisation of the nation's high streets in particular.Delivering retail facilities fit for the 21st century and encouraging the public to invest more in town centres will be a key aim of the initiative, with the recent Portas Review putting forward a number of recommendations that are now being acted upon.These include the delivery of new 'health checks' for UK high streets, agreeing a new vision for what town centres should offer local residents, explaining how to make the best use of existing planning powers and encouraging neighbourhoods to have a stronger voice in deciding how their community areas should be developed.As such, workshops are now being set up that will enable local authorities to garner new skills on the effective promotion and management of high streets, with the first topics to be covered to include partnership development, planning powers, moving the high street beyond retail, the basics of business district improvement, how to run a town team and the importance of footfall and business planning.Mr Pickles commented: "We have reset the terms to allow high streets to thrive in the digital age with tax breaks for small businesses, a simplified planning system and fairer parking rules."There isn't a one-size-fits-all model but with the help of these dedicated local high street experts town teams will have the tools to make the changes they want and support the high streets of the future."He added it is the hope of the government that these new 'town teams' will deliver high streets that not only meet the needs of today's communities, but which also effectively cater for individuals living in these areas in ten, 15 and 20 years' time. 

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