With an undoubtedly provocative title, this one-day conference on 7 Feb 2019, delivered by ATCM was bound to court some interesting points of view.

Held at the rather impressive Crystal building – itself a relevant part of the city narrative – in London’s Docklands, the event drew suppliers, consultants, experts and practitioners from across the UK.

Key Points

Jim McMahon MP – chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Town Centres – started the event with an interesting debate about online vs High Street sales, and possible remedies to rebalance the online and offline tax regimes – a common thread throughout the day.

McMahon pointed to an Amazon distribution centre near Manchester airport: robotic and barely needing human intervention – the rateable value was £44/sqm. Compare this to a town centre location, with rates nearer £400/sqm and necessary employment costs on top.

Nonetheless, the point was made (again multiple times from various speakers) that the rise of online, and the disparity in taxes, should not be seen as the sole contributor to the demise of the high street – they are part of a larger picture.

Diane Wehrle from Springboard gave a typically deep insight into the numbers behind town centre changes, with one particular note that stood out: with all economic factors considered, online sales growth is slowing.

Could it be we are approaching ‘peak’ Internet shopping – or at least peak given current technology?

Edward Woodall from the Association of Convenience Stores asked the question of why CCTV and air conditioning should cause rates to rise, and provided plenty of good points on Use Classes.

We also heard from many other contributors including Victoria Hills – chair of RTPI, Phil Prentice who heads the Scottish Towns Partnership, and Andrew Carter (CEO, Centre for Cities) who gave a very frank and provocative view of the property landscape.

Without a doubt, this was one of the more interesting conferences of recent times and continues to affirm my belief that the work Noggin is doing with High Street data – particularly property and landlord records – is both relevant and highly valuable.

If you want to find out how data can be more relevant and more valuable for you, contact us for a chat!

Sven Latham

Sven Latham

Stares at spreadsheets for a living