About the Task Force
The High Streets Task Force has been set-up to strengthen local leadership in high streets and town centres in England. It will do this by providing information, advice, training, knowledge and data - helping people to make a positive difference to their local communities.
The Task Force has been commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, in response to the recommendations of the High Streets Expert Panel chaired by the hugely successful entrepreneur Sir John Timpson, who argue that successful change is created by local communities who have a vision for their high streets and town centres. (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/the-high-street-report)
The Task Force has already completed its first phase, involving its planning, setup and launch. A consortium has been formed of 13 partners, each with considerable experience of working with high streets and a range of stakeholders. The Task Force is led by the Institute of Place Management, the international professional body that supports people committed to developing, managing and making better places.
We have already started providing services, such as working with local areas that are bidding for investment from the £1 billion Future High Streets Fund, to help them to develop effective business cases. (https://www.gov.uk/government/news/1-billion-future-high-streets-fund-expanded-to-50-more-areas)
To ensure that the Task Force meets the needs of towns and high streets, we are currently piloting many of the products and services that will the Task Force will deliver around the country. This work, started in October 2019, involves a range of local stakeholders, people and organisations, to gather and incorporate their feedback into final designs. In early 2020, this pilot will also include the launch of our full website.
By July 2020, the Task Force will offer a comprehensive range of support for place leaders, based on the needs of their local communities.
How will the High Streets Task Force help local communities?
We have a vision for town centres and high streets that are at the heart of their communities, with a unique sense of place and a strong identity. We will deliver a range of services aligned to four objectives, which will provide practical support to people and places.
Boost Local Authority capacity
The Task Force provides expert knowledge and support to Local Authorities to solve the problems that are holding places back. This helps high streets and town centres to capitalise on opportunities and investment, and meet the needs of their communities. Using data to drive local strategies, such as rethinking retail, residential and amenities, the Task Force will help local authorities ensure their high streets and towns centres are community hubs.
Build place making skills
The Task Force builds the skills of organisations and groups to deliver effective initiatives and strategies that make a difference to their local area. A range of learning options, from workshops to qualifications, will help to grow sustainable expertise in placemaking, giving practical tools to those who live and work across the country and are passionate about making better places.
The Task Force will promote positive messages about what is happening in town centres, to highlight the changes now occurring, to develop confidence for investors and ensure communities feel proud of their high street. We will support the establishment of inclusive structures that provide greater coordination and understanding of what is happening in town centres, and will more directly link local initiatives and achievements to national consciousness.
Information and data sharing
The Task Force supports local leaders to develop the right plans for their town centres and high streets. This requires access to the latest data, information and evidence. All of this data needs to be carefully vetted, and integrated in ways that provide a reliable resource to the people who are making important decisions about the future of their high streets and town centres.