The High Street Report
In 2018, an Expert Panel was set up to diagnose the issues facing UK high streets and town centres. Working alongside the Institute of Place Management (IPM) and MHCLG, a series of evidence sessions and a survey were conducted across England. This report details the resulting recommendations fed back to central government.
High streets and town centres across the UK are experiencing significant turbulence; however, they are not dying but instead transforming. In 2018, at the request of Jake Berry MP, an Expert Panel was set up to determine the challenges facing high streets and town centres. Working alongside The Institute of Place Management (IPM) and Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), evidence sessions were conducted in Aldershot, Altrincham, Bristol, Holmfirth, and Shrewsbury, in addition to a representative survey to find out what people want the high streets and town centres of the future to look like. To capture young voices, a Teenage Market in Bolton was also visited and the co-founder and 10 young stallholders interviewed. Based on this work, the report sets out a series of recommendations for central government. First, an ‘Upside Down Government’ approach is proposed, with locally inspired and led initiatives supported – but not dictated – by government. Second, a High Streets Task Force is recommended, which provides a single voice for town centres, encourages use of data in decision-making, and the formation and maintenance of local networks and partnerships. Third, a Future High Streets Fund is proposed, which provides funding for places with clear visions and capacity for change. And, finally, a series of short-term solutions are advised, including place housekeeping and appearance improvements, possibly through a ‘National High Street Perfect Day’ initiative; innovative repurposing of vacant units; and car parking reviews to ensure people are not driven out of town centres.