In an open letter to the Prime Minister David Cameron, the UK’s leading retail property trade body, BCSC has challenged Government to take yet more concerted action to enable investment on the nation’s high streets. It said that with retail development at its lowest ebb for 30 years, never has there been a more important time to overcome the development viability issues faced as a result of current economic conditions. On behalf of its 2,500 strong membership, BCSC therefore outlined to Government the pressing matters stalling the industry’s development pipeline and the action required to turn towns around. It said: “For a few years now, the industry has called on Government to consider a private sector led Tax Increment Financing (TIF) programme to bridge the growing development viability gap. This approach to TIF allows projected increases in business rates revenue to be used to secure private sector investment in public infrastructure, bridging the gap between securing funding and starting on site. This valuable opportunity cannot be glossed over any longer at the expense of our town centres. “Town centres first has been clearly stated Government policy since 1996, yet implementation remains inconsistent at best. The private sector cannot be expected to deliver substantive town and city centre investment without consistent and transparent application of policy at local level.” Peter Drummond, president of BCSC, said: “The Prime Minister’s appointment of Mary Portas was an important step but we strongly believe that Government now needs to take more decisive action to encourage investment in town and city centres. High streets and shopping centres fulfil leisure and community needs as well as retailing ones so constant investment and refreshment is vital, but the private sector needs supportive policy to make it viable.” “We have written to the Prime Minister following last week’s flurry of announcements on further planning reform to outline a number of wider issues that need addressing. Principally, Government must put further pressure on the implementation of a town centres first policy at local authority level. Secondly, a more widespread and effective use of tax increment financing to deliver hundreds of millions of pounds of local infrastructure must be urgently considered.”