A Vision for High Street Regeneration

Changes in consumer behaviour and the Covid-19 pandemic have provided opportunities to transform our high streets and town centres. Drawing insights from the Paisley Visioning Pilot Project, this 2019 report provides guidance around why a vision is needed, what a vision will do, and how a vision can be effectively implemented to create diverse, sustainable, and thriving places. It provides a 22-point ‘High Street Manifesto for Change’.

Date added 17 August 2021
Last updated 17 August 2021

This comprehensive - yet readable - report from Threesixty Architecture, Scotland’s Towns Partnership, Scottish Government, Renfrewshire Council, and Revo, provides guidance as to how to produce a town centre vision which leads to transformative change. In explaining why a vision is needed, what a vision will do, and how a vision can be implemented for transformation, it provides case studies from a range of centres, including the Paisley Visioning Pilot Project. Which was a project jointly commissioned in 2019 by The Scottish Government and Renfrewshire Council, with guidance from Scotland’s Towns Partnerships and Revo, to create a 10-year vision for Paisley town centre. As the report argues, to bring about transformation, visions should be collaborative, coordinated, and context-sensitive, whereby:

“The delivered Vision should re-profile the High Street and town centre to be the vibrant focus for the whole community with wellbeing, inclusion and opportunity at its heart. It should provide a consolidated and successful retail offer and new uses that meet the needs of the community and extend into an evening economy. Furthermore, the vision should lead to a repopulated centre and provide workplace and creative space. It should restore pride in the High Street” (p. 16).

The report is organised around a High Street Manifesto for Change, which provides 22 key ways to ensure a vision succeeds and brings about transformative change, a selection of which are summarised below:

A High Street Manifesto for Change

1. Concentrate- take a deliberately focused approach around the high street as the heart of a town.

3. Establish purpose- define unique story and purpose of the town to underpin transformational strategies.

5. Reduce retail dominance- provide activities communities need beyond retail, repurposing empty and under-let units and providing things like co-working space.

6. Repopulate the high street- introduce more urban living within the town centre through mixed use blocks and a range of tenures.

7. Introduce attractors- a variety of attractors can drive visits into town centres and bring new life to cherished buildings, with culture and arts offer important.

13. Places to gather- create places where both local residents and visitors can get together, for instance during events.

14. Accessible, legible, visible- ensure the high street is inclusive, welcoming, and accessible for all.

15. Promote sustainable transport– encourage environmentally-friendly public transport and cyclist-friendly town centres to ensure it is more accessible.

21. Nurture ‘meanwhile’ uses – whilst transformation takes time, in the meantime encourage temporary activities and usage of vacant sites and property.

22. Evening economy – ensure the town centre is welcoming and vibrant beyond typical shop opening times by providing other activities and uses into the evening time.

For further information

To learn more about the report, please watch the High Streets Task Force ‘Routemap to Transformation’ webinar on ‘Repositioning’, in which Alan Anthony from Threesixty Architecture spoke about the report in depth.

You can also read more about Paisley town centre’s 10-year vision here.