Written evidence submitted by the Association of Town and City Management, with the Institute of Place Management and the BID Foundation (high streets in 2030)

This resource is the joint written evidence from the ATCM, IPM, and BID Foundation submitted to the parliamentary high streets and town centres in 2030 inquiry. It covers the changing role of high streets, the wider structural changes they are facing, the non-economic impacts, what government policy should address, local authority support needed, and extending the legacy of government initiatives around high streets.

Date added 14 September 2021
Last updated 14 September 2021

This resource is the joint written evidence provided by the ATCM, IPM, and BID Foundation submitted to the parliamentary high streets and town centres in 2030 inquiry. It covers the changing role of high streets, the wider structural changes they are facing, what government policy should address, local authority support needed, and extending the legacy of government policy and initiatives around high streets. Some of the key recommendations provided are summarised below.

The key structural changes

  • The UK population is growing and is also getting older.
  • The rise in online shopping is one major factor impacting high streets and rising vacancies.
  • Technological changes will impact how high streets are used, and also retail employment.
  • The high street is impacted by the overall economy and wider issues such as Brexit.

The changing role of high streets

  • High streets should take a multifunctional rather than a retail-focused perspective.
  • High streets should encompass healthy placemaking strategies.
  • High streets should be inclusive places, catering to the needs of all place users.
  • There is a need to consider the non-economic impacts of high streets as well.

Government policy also needs to address

  • Two key barriers to successful high streets are business rates and multi-landlord ownership, which needs addressing.
  • Residential development should ensure not to undermine commercial function.
  • Council investment in commercial property, and property owner BIDs can help to resolve structural difficulties at a local level.

Additional local council support

  • Local authorities require support and skills in knowing how to address issues such as the decline in A1 retail units.
  • Local authorities need additional guidance regarding using existing capacity to address town centre revitalisation.

Legacy of government policies

  • There is a need to better support the local activity stemming from government projects and initiatives.
  • It is important for high streets and town centres to be recognised in policy areas such as the Industrial Strategy and LEPs.

Overarching recommendations

  1. The consideration of the high street as a multifunctional space needs to be better reflected in planning.
  2.  Local authorities require clearer guidance on using their existing statutory powers to help restore vitality and viability to high streets and town centres.
  3. Local government finance must incentivise sustainable economic development through fiscal devolution.
  4. Support needs to be provided for the evolution of public-private town and city management models.