Necessities - 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 'Necessities' priority - why it matters, and what you can do about it.

Date added 9 June 2020
Last updated 9 June 2020

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 Necessities 

Car-parking; Amenities; General Facilities 

Ranking 

Necessities 

Rank 

Score 

Descriptor 

Influence 

16th out of 25 

3.90 out of 5 

Influential 

Control 

= 1st out of 25 

3.68 out of 4 

Potentially controllable 

25 Priorities 

7th out of 25 

14.18 

Very high priority 

Description/Definition 

As a focal point for a plethora of activities and a place for meeting and gathering, the high street should be equipped with basic amenities and facilities such as car and bicycle parking, benches and other street furniture, rain and shade structures, street lights, public toilets, water fountains, playgrounds, sidewalks, etc. 

Why does it matter? (Influence) 

Ensuring that basic amenities are present and maintained plays an important role in the attractiveness of the high street (Whyatt, 2004). Balsas (2004) highlighted that addressing the lack of general amenities is an important aspect that is generally ignored in discussions regarding the design and implementation of high street revitalization projects. 

DeNisco and Warnaby (2013) identified that high streets with plenty of parking spaces available are perceived as having better quality of service than others; these places are more functional because of the spaces and physical facilities that provide ease of entry and exit to the centre. Additionally, well-maintained and attractive functional amenities such as urban furniture positively contribute to the aesthetic design of the high street and can give a feeling of pleasure while dwelling within the centre (De Nisco and Warnaby, 2014). 

The importance of attributes within the high street that offer convenience to people can also give a positive image to the high street. Such attributes include ease of car access, ease of parking, provision of public toilets, and a compact high street design (Wee, 1986). These attributes, coupled with other necessities such as signage provision that allows for easy orientation around the centre (see also Walking), contribute to the ‘legibility’ of the high street (Taylor, 2009), making it easy to read, navigate and comprehend, and subsequently enhancing one’s cognitive (navigation) and aesthetic (pleasure, enjoyment) perception for the place (Warnaby, 2009). 

What can you do about it? (Control) 

It is important to be able to create a modern, pleasant and diverse environment that allows the multifunctional use of the high street. Make sure that routine maintenance tasks and environmental improvements (such as provision of attractive street paving, maintenance of seats and street furniture, signposting, cleaning toilets, etc.) are being taken care of, as these are aspects of environmental quality that allow for a more pleasant and care-free high street experience (Jones, 1990). Such factors are easily controllable, and successful monitoring and reporting of any problems in the facilitative infrastructure of the high street (e.g. damage to pavements, benches and other street furniture) can demonstrate the contribution of place management initiatives to the viability and sustainability of the high street (Otsuka and Reeve, 2007). 

The provision of ‘easy’, ‘plenty’, and ‘inexpensive parking’ is regarded an important factor in high street patronage (Bell, 1999; Wee, 1986), considering that out-of-town malls provide easy access and free parking. However, the character and tradition of a town centre may be valued more highly than concerns for central parking. This is a sensitive subject and a constant topic of discussion among local authorities, businesses, and place management organisations. A partnership-based approach should be followed in order to reach a solution that will enhance high street attractiveness and will encourage other forms of travel that can substitute or complement the need to park close to the desired location (Reimers, 2013). 

Necessities and COVID-19 

With lockdown being eased and people returning to the high street, place managers need to be proactive and ensure that facilitative amenities and other necessities are not only convenient and aesthetically pleasing, but are also ensuring the safety of place users. 

Place managers should identify opportunities to offer hand washing or hand sanitising at various points in the area and ensure these are accessible for all, and also plan for enhanced cleaning and sanitising to ensure the risks of the virus are reduced. 

The subsequent extra costs of such measures will likely necessitate the closure or partial closure of several amenities, such as public toilets in areas with no footfall, which will protect finances for the local authority and enable the redeployment of staff to other areas. 

An ongoing review of the usage of local facilities/amenities and assessment of additional maintenance/cleaning is required throughout the recovery phases. These reviews can subsequently lead to a phased approach towards reopening of facilities, subject to their demand. It should also be considered how public places such as car parks and toilets can support the wellbeing and comfort of visitors, without risking transmission in the public realm. 

In the transformation phase, amenities should be provided according to the needs of all those who use the place, including visitors, shoppers and locals, elderly people, families and others with particular needs, rather than primarily as income generators. Where possible, car parking should be provided at the periphery of the centre with sustainable and affordable transport modes shuttling visitors to the (if viable, pedestrianised) centre. Frequent opportunities for resting, cycle racks, toilets, wayfinding and green spaces/infrastructure will feature heavily in the centre. 

See also 

Attractiveness; Experience; Appearance; Place Management; Walking; Functionality 

References 

Balsas CJL (2004) Measuring the livability of an urban centre: an exploratory study of key performance indicators. Planning Practice & Research 19(1): 101–110. 

Bell, S., 1999. Image and consumer attraction to intraurban retail areas: an environmental psychology approach. Journal of Retailing and Consumer Services 6 (2), 67–78 

De Nisco A and Warnaby G (2013) Shopping in downtown: The effect of urban environment on service quality perception and behavioural intentions. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 41(9): 654–670. 

De Nisco A and Warnaby G (2014) Urban design and tenant variety influences on consumers’ emotions and approach behavior. Journal of Business Research 67(2): 211–217. 

Jones P (1990) Town Centre Management Schemes in the UK. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 18(3): 15–17. 

Otsuka N and Reeve A (2007) Town Centre Management and Regeneration: The Experience in Four English Cities. Journal of Urban Design 12(3): 435–459. 

Reimers V (2013) Convenience for the car-borne shopper: Are malls and shopping strips driving customers away? Transportation Research Part A: Policy and Practice 49: 35–47. 

Taylor, N (2009) Legibility and aesthetics in urban design. Journal of Urban Design 14(2), 189–202. 

Warnaby G (2009) Look up! Retailing, historic architecture and city centre distinctiveness. Cities 26(5): 287–292. 

Wee C (1986) Shopping area image: Its factor analytic structure and relationships with shopping trips and expenditure behaviour. Advances in Consumer Research 13, 48–52. 

Whyatt G (2004) Town centre management: how theory informs a strategic approach. International Journal of Retail & Distribution Management 32(7): 346–353. 

 

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