Last updated: 31 December 2019

High Streets Task Force starts testing and development

Work begins in January with a number of local authorities around England to pilot products and services that support their town centre regeneration efforts. Following the pilot, this support will be offered nationally by the High Streets Task Force from July.

14 local authorities that are part of the pilot have already received a Transforming Your High Street report from the Task Force that analyses challenges, strategic vision and capacity for collaborative action for their town centre.

The Task Force has been working through the autumn to develop products and services that can support local place leaders and we will now work to pilot these, testing and refining their suitability for places with different needs. The products and services include training, expert insight, data and analytics, mentoring, and workshops.

The 14 places that will take part in the pilot are:

  1. Salford - Swinton Town Centre
  2. Croydon - Thornton Heath
  3. Staffordshire Moorlands - Cheadle
  4. Rushmoor - Aldershot Town Centre
  5. Birmingham - Stirchley
  6. Hyndburn – Accrington Town Centre
  7. South Lakeland - Kendal
  8. Preston - Friargate
  9. Coventry - Coventry City Centre
  10. Hartlepool - Hartlepool Town Centre
  11. Cheshire West and Chester - Ellesmere Port Town Centre
  12. Sandwell - West Bromwich Town Centre
  13. Knowsley - Huyton Town Centre
  14. Manchester - Withington District Centre

More than 150 local authorities that submitted Future High Streets Fund bids but have not been shortlisted for funding will also receive a Transforming Your High Street report from the Task Force over the next few months.

Two Business Case Development seminars will be delivered in January by the Task Force with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to provide advice to local authorities that have been shortlisted for the Future High Streets Fund.

Identifying leading experts

A key part of the Task Force’s work is to identify relevant experts to provide local support for towns. A number of professional bodies have agreed protocols to make expert support available from their membership and this support will also be part of the forthcoming pilot programme and national delivery from July. The professional bodies include the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Landscape Institute, RICS (Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors), the Design Council (through their Built Environment Expert programme) and the Institute of Place Management (IPM).

Commenting on the progress, Simon Quin, Executive Director of the High Streets Task Force, said:

“We know that High Streets and town centres face significant challenges and they need to reinvent themselves if they are to be the thriving heart of communities again. There are many ideas out there but it is often hard to turn these into action."

"Through its experts and targeted products and services the Task Force will provide the support that is needed for local place leadership to make things happen. We are now at a stage where we can test our approach in a number of different locations. We look forward to learning from that experience and making the support even more relevant.”

Assembling evidence

Work is also underway to develop a repository of evidence, good practice, and insight on town centres and how they are changing. This will be freely available on the High Streets Task Force website and will build over time.

High street experts will collate, review and interpret submissions to this repository and many resources will also be highlighted through diagnostic questionnaires to ensure their relevance and accessibility.

The High Streets Task Force would now welcome any submissions of materials for consideration for inclusion in the repository from individuals and organisations. Please send submissions to resources@highstreetstaskforce.org