High Streets for All

This 2017 report explores the 'social value’ of high streets. Focusing on London’s high streets, and drawing on surveys, interviews, observations, and secondary data, it discusses 10 key roles of high streets (e.g. places of connection, employment providers etc.), as well as 10 key recommendations for creating inclusive and prosperous high streets (e.g. citizen engagement, evidence-based decisions etc.) Findings revolve around 'prosperity', 'people', and 'place', and can apply to any high street.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

This 2017 report explores the 'social value’ of high streets, which the authors define as “...the wider impact of programmes across social, economic and environmental concerns, for example on individual wellbeing, group social capital and area-level physical environment” (p. 14). The project is an outcome of the Mayor of London’s 2016 publication - A City for All Londoners - setting out an agenda for a renewed focus on social inclusion. Focusing on London’s high streets, the report details 10 key ways through which to create a more inclusive, diverse, and prosperous high street, which can, in turn, apply to any place. More specifically, drawing on surveys, interviews, observations, and secondary data, the study on which the report is based, sought to answer the following key questions:

  • What is the value of high streets for Londoners?
  • What changes are high streets in London currently facing, and how do these affect the Londoners who use them?
  • How can high streets and their regeneration be more inclusive and benefit all Londoners?

Based on the above data, the following key findings and recommendations are discussed in depth.


Key findings: Prosperity, people, place

It is found high streets:

  • Are a key source of employment
  • Provide economic opportunities
  • Promote sociality and community
  • Are gathering places for marginalised groups
  • Offer important social services
  • Often don’t fall neatly within town centre boundaries
  • Provide a range of work spaces
  • Struggle to enable collaboration between businesses
  • Are important points of connectivity
  • Users have an awareness of urban change.

To foster social and economic value for users, provide:

  • A diverse mix of businesses and services
  • High employment densities
  • Transport and connectivity between places
  • Places to socialise
  • Information and support
  • Convenience and choice
  • Night-time activities
  • A safe environment
  • Adaptability for new uses and users

For inclusive and locally-responsible growth:

  • Take a strategic place-based approach
  • Promote citizen-led regeneration
  • Be inclusive through citizen engagement
  • Protect diversity and choice
  • Recognise the social value
  • Value high street businesses
  • Champion high streets as social and civic places
  • Value high streets as a source of civic pride
  • Champion high streets as public spaces
  • Uphold an evidence-based approach.