Planning and governance issues in the restructuring of the high street

During the IPM’s High Street UK 2020 project, a strategic framework for place regeneration - the ‘4Rs framework’ - was developed. Restructuring is the regeneration strategy discussed in this paper. It involves nurturing networks and partnerships of engaged stakeholders, as well as considering physical restructuring needs.

Date added 9 February 2020
Last updated 6 June 2020

High streets and town centres are facing significant challenges due to pressures of out-of-town retailing, the rise in online shopping, and changes in consumer behaviour. However, local place leaders do not always know how to effectively respond to such changes to regenerate high streets and town centres. The High Street UK 2020 (HSUK2020) project, led by the Institute of Place Management, sought to bring fragmented and often inaccessible academic knowledge directly to UK high streets to improve their vitality and viability. As part of this project, a team of place experts developed a strategic framework for place regeneration - the ‘4Rs framework’ - which includes: repositioningreinventing, rebranding, and restructuring. This paper focuses on how local place stakeholders can respond to high street decline through a strategy of restructuring. Restructuring strategies involve considerations of both governance structures and the physical structuring of places; this paper focuses on the former. The article argues that high streets and town centres should be considered as complex places requiring clear leadership, collaborative visions, and effective partnership working. It provides examples from project partner towns across the UK to demonstrate what effective partnership working involves (e.g. clear roles and responsibilities), as well as some of the challenges places need to navigate when adopting joint partnership working and collaborative governance models (e.g. lack of leadership). The paper concludes by recommending a place’s partnership structures are regularly reviewed, relationships between stakeholder groups understood, and collaborative working encouraged.