4Rs Regeneration Framework

A framework of strategic approaches to high street renewal – repositioning, reinventing, rebranding and restructuring.

For place leaders and partnerships that want to take a more strategic, or longer-term approach to transformation, then the High Streets Task Force uses a framework that consists of four strategic approaches to renewal.

This framework also drives the new 'Routemap from Recovery to Transformation' developed to support place leaders to navigate their town and city centres and high streets onto a path of positive change, post-COVID.

Previous research and projects such as the Institute of Place Managements High Street 2020 project have demonstrated that the 4Rs framework provides a structure to the incredibly complex process of place transformation. It distinguishes between the processes of analysis and decision making (repositioning), effecting change (reinventing), communication (rebranding) and governance/spatial planning (restructuring).


In some locations, there is a poor understanding of the catchment, the challenges and trends impacting on the place as well as a lack of data on which to base decisions. In these instances, a strategy of repositioning is sensible. This entails taking time to collect and analyse data and information, as well as develop appropriate visions and strategies that can get widespread buy-in.


Other places have the data they need and sensible plans for how the town or city needs to change to better serve its catchment communities, but nothing is actually happening there. A process of reinvention is needed. Transformation needs to start! This might be through temporary interventions. For example, a major pedestrianisation scheme may have stalled because of a lack of investment. However, temporary road closures may still have a similar effect, at least for part of the week.


Sometimes there are good plans, based on good evidence and these are being brought to life. The place is both repositioning and reinventing – but catchment perceptions have not changed. People are still negative about the town or city and that’s when a process of rebranding may be needed. Rebranding includes better stakeholder communications, not just marketing and PR activities.


Finally, some towns, cities and high streets just seem to be stuck in a state of inertia around decision making or, when decisions are made and action taken, it doesn’t have the impact that was expected. This can be tackled through a process of restructuring. Either the governance and management mechanisms in the place need changing or, large scale spatial planning is needed to address some structural problem – for example the town is too fragmented and needs to be restructured around a centre of gravity that is not the town’s current designated core.

Explore our E-Learns on the 4Rs Framework and find the right approach

Learn more about the 4Rs Framework

We have developed support that will enable place leaders to apply this framework in their town, city or on their high street.

Access the Task Force interactive e-learning that explains each of the 4Rs:

An online diagnostic is coming soon to help you identify which renewal approach is best for you, based on an assessment of what is blocking your transformation, what you have already achieved and the time and resource you have available. 

Case study - Altrincham

Using the 4Rs Framework to support transformation

Altrincham is well known as a town that has successfully regenerated, winning the title of England’s best high street in 2018. Regeneration was a long process though, that took many years to bear fruit. Even when substantial physical improvements had been made in the town centre, the town was not attracting a significant proportion of local people, because they had very negative perceptions of the town, and talked it down.

The 4Rs confirmed that we had a branding problem” said Penny Bell, former Principal Town Centre Officer at Trafford Council, the Local Authority responsible for Altrincham.

We had come such a long way making great improvements in the town but that wasn’t enough, we still had to convince people that the town had changed”.

The rebranding strategy was centred around the idea of Altrincham being “a modern market town”, this also acted as an umbrella for many of the other projects and plans that were going on in the town, including the reinvention of the historic market into a food hall.

Successful town centre regeneration takes a long time and relies on lots of different people and organisations pulling in the same direction” said Penny, “a rebranding approach makes you think about stakeholder communications as well as the external perceptions people have of your town".




Image: courtesy and copyright of Planit-IE