Task Force to launch call for Experts to support high street transformation

Published 10 March 2020
Last updated 10 March 2020

The High Streets Task Force is to create a new register of Experts who will work with local authorities and communities to support their transformation of high streets and town and city centres.

The Task Force has identified key areas of expertise where additional capacity is needed to tackle challenges and unlock the potential of high streets. This expertise will be drawn from the High Streets Task Force alliance of place making organisations and prescribed to towns and cities to provide free support where need is identified by Task Force analysis and diagnostic place visits.

The Task Force will build its register of Experts working with the following respected organisations and professional bodies: Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Landscape Institute, The Design Council, and Institute of Place Management.

Experts can apply through or will be put forward by their respective organisation to be appointed a High Streets Task Force Expert and all Experts will be Member or Fellow level, or Built Environment Experts in the case of The Design Council.

Supporting high streets

Expert support will be provided by the Task Force for specific, complex challenges where solutions can’t be found in-house or from the marketplace and existing relationships with consultancies.

Professor Cathy Parker, Research Lead for the High Streets Task Force and Co-Chair of Institute of Place Management said:

“Our research has indicated there are 237 different factors that impact on the performance of a town or high street. Managing change across this scale is a complicated process and it needs an understanding of many disciplines. Finding all of that within a local authority and stakeholders in a single area can be a challenge, which is why this approach by the Task Force provides welcome support to help unlock barriers to transformation.”

“At present, expertise is often contained within consultancies and agencies that are associated with a particular profession, so the Task Force has developed a novel solution to find interdisciplinary solutions to these complex high street and town centre problems.”

Co-ordinated expertise

The High Streets Task Force has worked with its expert organisations and professional bodies to identify distinct areas of expertise, which each organisation will provide through the appointment of Experts to the Task Force register.

These areas ensure that each organisation provides specialists and that there is a coordinated approach across multiple bodies, meaning that towns and cities receive the best support.

Experts will demonstrate significant and successful experience of working on high street, town centre and place-based issues and Task Force Experts will receive training from the Task Force on interdisciplinary working and the latest thinking on the challenges facing high streets and town centres and will deliver one or more of the following specialisms:

Design Council:

  • Civic activity, engagement and participation
  • Diversity and inclusive design (for equality and social resilience)
  • Healthy placemaking & social sustainability
  • Sustainable building design for climate change adaptation
  • Urban design and streets (when public realm/green and blue infrastructure is not a major focus)
  • Heritage and historic buildings (not environments)
  • Architecture
  • Repurposing buildings
  • Future trends insight
  • Future proofing town centre environments (e.g. social and environmental sustainability, emerging technologies and digital transformation)
  • Pedestrian movement and flow including service design and user research

Institute of Place Management:

  • Place leadership and visioning
  • Place marketing and branding
  • Stakeholder engagement, communication and management
  • Governance, place management partnership structures ( inc. BIDs)
  • Place activation (events, festivals, arts and culture, markets, pop ups)
  • Consensus building and conflict resolution across councils, community and business
  • Place analytics and dashboards (integrating and sharing sources of data)
  • Place based approaches to societal changes (e.g. homelessness)
  • Identifying local priorities for improving vitality and viability
  • Identifying and communicating complex trends and factors affecting town centres and high streets

Landscape Institute:

  • Design – public realm
  • Masterplanning (including visioning)
  • Visualisation and photography
  • Landscape assessment
  • Sustainability, climate change and resilience
  • Community engagement (including co-design)
  • Inclusive design
  • Landscape construction (and implementation)
  • Management of landscapes or parks management or people/visitor management
  • Procurement and tendering
  • Water Management (including Water Sensitive Urban Design & SuDS)

Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI):

  • Town centre/high street planning- general- all uses and mixes (including retail, commercial and residential, leisure, tourism, art and culture)
  • Town centre / high street assessments including town centre and primary shopping area designations, boundaries review, range of uses, sequential approach, and application of policy
  • Planning for heritage and conservation/historic environment in a town centre/high street context
  • Urban regeneration, urban design and place making (when public realm/greenspace is not a major focus)
  • Development and regeneration frameworks including masterplanning (when not anchored by public realm/greenspace)
  • Transport and infrastructure planning and management
  • Participatory planning (including community and stakeholder engagement)
  • Modelling/visualisation of visions/plans (via data insight and analytics)
  • Environmental planning, sustainability and climate change resilience
  • Health and well-being planning

Find out more

Each of the organisations and professional bodies involved in recruiting Task Force Experts will be sharing more details of its approach with its membership soon.

For more details on the High Streets Task Force approach, see the guide to our pilot products and services and news about our expert visits to high streets throughout March 2020.