The UK’s high streets, the beating hearts of our communities, have reached a critical tipping point.
Three decades of decline because of the growth of out-of-town retail; the rise of megastores; and more recently a seismic shift towards online shopping, has left the high street vulnerable. Over reliant on retail, the Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the decline.
We are perilously close to losing these community spaces that are vital to local economies, community cohesion, civic pride, cultural identity, and local distinctiveness.
A new vision for our high streets is urgently needed. We argue that understanding the needs of local communities, giving them greater power and ownership, and enabling diversification of our high streets is essential to their survival.
We are calling for
Government to help establish a High Street Buyout Fund designed to act rapidly to purchase important empty high street buildings as they come up for sale, to hold until communities are ready to take them on long term.
Government to create a powerful Community Right to Buy that will give communities priority rights to buy high street buildings in which they have registered an interest, and a generous window of opportunity to raise the funds necessary to meet the price.
Expansion of Community Improvement Districts providing greater opportunity for communities, businesses and local government to work together to deliver strategically for neighbourhoods.
This report explores the role that private sector developers can play in supporting greater community involvement on our high streets and in our town centres, aiming to draw out lessons for private developers. It explores what conditions would enable private developers to support community involvement more boldly, and the opportunities for developers to proactively support the emergence of a high-quality pipeline of community businesses in the regeneration of our high streets.
This working paper looks at examples of community businesses operating in high street or town centre locations across the UK and draws out lessons from their experience. It aims to help local communities, local government and national policymakers better understand the potential role of community business in supporting the regeneration of high streets.
This paper explores the emerging concept of Community Improvement Districts (CIDs), defined as bodies which provide opportunities for community stakeholders to participate in operational and strategic decision-making for their neighbourhoods. This paper considers the various models, contexts and risk factors to inform discussion of CIDs.
This report explores how high streets have declined and puts forward our recommendations for greater community ownership.