High Streets Podcast Ep. 2 - Ben Stephenson

Posted by Ben Stephenson, Matthew Davis

Ben Stephenson is an experienced place manager - he has led a Business Improvement District across two London boroughs, managed one of the oldest street-markets in the city, and now advises BIDs across the UK. He talks to the Task Force about the practical ways that high streets are responding to COVID19. From the early crisis stage to tactical urbanism and the reflective planning of pre-recovery, Ben touches on the Recovery Framework and offers a perspective on the changing context for place leaders.

Date added 25 May 2020
Last updated 27 May 2020


Ben Stephenson talks to Matthew Davis of the High Streets Task Force about COVID-19 and references the COVID-19 Recovery Framework, which you can find more details about below.

As Ben mentions in the podcast, the Framework is not a linear set of prescribed steps, but rather will evolve as we learn more about how high streets are responding to the crisis, and which initiatives are most effective on the journey to the 'Recovery' and 'Transformation' stages.

In each High Streets Podcast episode, we'll hear from different guests with insights on responding to COVID-19. In each, the guests will relate their experience and perspectives to the Recovery Framework, with the aim of giving listeners insight and ideas to take into their own places and work.

COVID-19 Recovery Framework - Introduction

The Framework sets out a series of systematic preparedness, response and recovery measures, across four stages: CrisisPre-RecoveryRecovery, and Transformation. Drawing on a range of place management research and input from practitioners across the country, the Framework is an important approach for place leaders to adopt.

The Framework, created by the Institute of Place Management, is now supplied by the Task Force on an editable basis where each stage can be adapted to guide local plans towards recovery. Place Managers can use the Framework and accompanying guidance to decide what activities are relevant to their high street. Place Managers can then identify who is responsible for the activity and how it is being done - so there is a more comprehensive plan to share.

Read more and download the editable Framework

Share COVID-19 high street stories and initiatives

If you'd like to contribute to the evolution of the Framework, or share a good example of a high street responding to COVID-19, please get in touch. You can email the Institute of Place Management, lead partner of the Task Force, at COVID19@placemanagement.org

Share resources via the Task Force

If you have resources you think would prove valuable for those interested in high streets, place management and transformation, particularly in the context of COVID-19, you can also submit these to Resources@highstreetstaskforce.org

Crisis stage

The crisis stage focuses on how town centres and place managers act immediately, supporting and helping stakeholders through the initial
stages of the crisis. The Recovery Framework identifies the following activities or areas as priorities during Crisis:

  • Co-ordination
  • Communications
  • Reassurance
  • Data
  • Signposting
  • Structure
  • Solving problems

Pre-Recovery stage

The Pre-Recovery’ stage is a crucial step towards building collective capacity and moving towards more reflexive forms of place governance
and coordinated leadership. The Recovery Framework identifies the following activities or areas as priorities during Pre-Recovery:

  • Digitalisation
  • Coordination & communication
  • Networking & capacity building
  • Accessibility
  • Reimagining
  • Making a recovery plan

Recovery stage

The Recovery stage is concerned with nurturing the creativity and resourcefulness of individuals and businesses as they reacted to the crisis. Instead of sidelining these, Recovery builds on the experience in looking to bring people back to places. The Recovery Framework identifies the following activities or areas as priorities during Recovery:

  • Telling the story
  • Cleaning
  • Data
  • Managing footfall
  • Managing social distancing

Transformation stage

The ‘transformation’ stage points at the conscious attempt to improve the place – to do more than recover but to innovate and address new
challenges, such as climate change, decarbonisation, economic inequality, and social justice. The Recovery Framework identifies the following activities or areas as priorities during Transformation:

  • Strong partnerships
  • Funding and investment
  • Delivering the vision