Accessibility - 25 'vital and viable' priorities

Research from the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University has identified the Top 25 priorities that can influence high street vitality and viability. This resource introduces the 'Accessibility' priority - why it matters, and what you can do about it.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 28 September 2021

What are the 25 vital and viable priorities?

Research from the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University has identified the Top 25 priorities that can influence high street vitality and viability.

The framework was created by experts from a range of disciplines and other stakeholders to foster cross-disciplinary knowledge and broadening real-world understanding of the changing nature of the high street.

The 25 priorities are practically orientated and, given their ability to be controlled or influenced at a town level, are fairly internally focussed. For each of the priorities you will find an introduction to evidence that describes the priority, suggests what it covers, discusses how it might be implemented and the level of control associated with it.

Additionally, you will find suggestions of what the priority could mean for implementation during the COVID-19 recovery stage.


Factors included in Accessibility

Accessibility; convenience; public transport







1st out of 25

4.52 out of 5



25th out of 25

2.85 out of 4

More difficult to control

25 Priorities

14th out of 25


High priority



Accessibility of a town centre or high street refers to its ease of reach, and to how convenient it is to access it. It encompasses access to urban opportunities such as health care facilities, sources of employment, shopping, leisure, etc. Accessibility is about connecting citizens with opportunities, and removing constrains such as excessive travel time or cost (Guy, 1983). Accessibility considers different means of reaching a place, such as public transport, walking, cycling, etc. It also refers to a centre being reachable by differently abled people, for example wheelchair users, blind people, and older people with mobility challenges and other barriers to access. (Wrigley & Lambiri 2014).

Why does it matter? (Influence)

Accessibility is directly linked to number of visitors and the vitality and viability of town centres. It can improve the diversity of retail and non-retail offer, as well as bring about employment opportunities and economic prosperity (i.e. property value) (Matthews & Turnbull, 2007).

Ease of access can be translated into decision to travel and, consequently, which shops or establishments (e.g. retail or non-retail) are visited (Guy, 1983). Lack of accessibility could thus be translated into a decay in retail expenditure in high streets but the concept should measure ease of access to retail as well as non-retail opportunities, such as cinemas, bars, museums, etc.

A poorly- connected high street does not only influence retailers, but also reduces accessibility to opportunities, services, and social networks, thus preventing people from participating in the economic, political, and social life of their community (Kenyon et al., 2003). 

What can you do about it? (Control)

High quality landscape design is important to promote accessibility, as well as maintenance of car parks, bus stops, cycle parking etc. At its most basic, signage is important to enhance accessibility. It is important to monitor for modal conflict at intersections of movement and mitigate where necessary. Involve public transport operators, car park operators and large attractors of vehicular movement on a rolling basis to adapt plans where necessary, and reduce traffic where possible to improve convenience for pedestrians and cyclists. Although accessibility is linked to the performance of high streets, often there is disagreement on what ‘good’ accessibility looks like, that is, on whether more space for cars and parking or for pedestrians would bring about economic prosperity. It is therefore key that research is conducted in each place, and a transport and accessibility strategy is put in place (McDonald, 2013).

Accessibility and COVID-19

Revisit the space that is handed over to pedestrians, cyclist, and vehicles. With social distancing more attention will be needed on pedestrian accessibility. Streetscape design is important in relation to COVID-19 to embrace foot traffic, sometimes with roads that are unnecessary for vehicular movement given over to pedestrian space. Data innovation and apps can be employed to design-in additional convenience for shoppers and visitors, predicting how they will use the centre and providing services which allow ease of movement, storage, refreshment and recuperation.

See also

Safety/crime, walking, experience, activity


Guy, C. M. (1983). The assessment of access to local shopping opportunities: a comparison of accessibility measures. Environment and Planning B: Planning and Design, 10(2), 219-237.

Kenyon, K., Lyons, G., Rafferty, J. (2003). Transport and social exclusion: Investigating the possibility of promoting social exclusion through virtual mobility. Journal of Transport Geography 10, 207–219.

Matthews, J. W., & Turnbull, G. K. (2007). Neighborhood street layout and property value: The interaction of accessibility and land use mix. The journal of real estate finance and economics, 35(2), 111-141.

McDonald, O. (2013). Re-think. Parking on the High Street: Guidance on Parking Provision in Town and City Centres. Association of Town & City Management, British Parking Association, Parking Data & Research International, Springboard Research Ltd.

Wrigley, N., & Lambiri, D. (2014). High street performance and evolution: a brief guide to the evidence. University of Southampton.