High Street 2030: Achieving Change

In 2018, the Institute of Place Management was commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government to conduct a series of evidence collecting workshops in towns across the UK, to determine how high streets and town centres can thrive in the future. This report summarises the findings from this study.

Date added 9 February 2020
Last updated 4 June 2020

UK high streets and town centres have been hit by what has been termed ‘a perfect storm’, including pressures of out-of-town retailing, the rise in online shopping, and changes in consumer behaviour. However, they are not dying but instead transforming. To learn more about the future of high streets and town centres, in 2018 the Institute of Place Management (IPM) was commissioned by the Ministry of Housing, Communities, and Local Government (MHCLG), on behalf of Sir John Timpson and Minister Jake Berry, to conduct a series of evidence collecting sessions. Stakeholder workshops were conducted in Aldershot, Altrincham, Bristol, Holmfirth, and Shrewsbury. To capture young voices, the IPM research team also visited a Teenage Market in Bolton, and interviewed the co-founder and 10 young stallholders. Although each town studied experiences their own distinct strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, the report identifies a number of ways high streets and town centres can become reinvigorated and sustained into the future. First, leadership, collaborative networks, and partnership working is integral to facilitating place change. Second, centres need to understand and share data, trends, and insights amongst stakeholders to enable evidence-based decision making. Third, good place leadership involves encouraging open communication flows between a range of place stakeholders. Fourth, young people need to be heard and engaged in designing the centres of the future, as these will soon be their high streets. Fifth, professionalisation of the place management sector is important to ensure place leaders act in the long-term interests of places and develop trust amongst stakeholders. Finally, despite acknowledging the importance of retail offer, the report also suggests centres of the future will need to be multi-functional, providing experiences, services, and meeting points for the community as well as retail.