Making and Shaking – the future of town centres

19 Sep 18

With Revo 2018 underway in Manchester, What is next for our high streets and non-super prime shopping centres?


With Revo 2018 underway in Manchester, the question on everyone’s lips – retailers, investors, Councils and developers alike – is the same…What is next for our high streets and non-super prime shopping centres?

For retailers the high street and town centre trading environment is a challenging one, which has seen a number of casualties, particularly over the last 12 months. As the nature of retail continues to fundamentally change, the way in which our high streets and town centres function will change both economically and socially.

The diminishing demand for traditional retail space from retailers, reflects the changes that are happening. The use class order designations no longer reflect the way in which people, businesses or buildings are increasingly working. And it challenges local authorities to be flexible in the way they grant consents, to enable a range of uses within the same buildings in our town centres; such as the emergence of micro distribution or the reintroduction of making things – the origin of much of our high street.

The opportunity is there for the towns and cities which are bold enough to embrace the change that is happening. These towns and cities will attract footfall to reinvigorate the vitality and viability of traditional centres. Every place is unique and we have the capacity to use a town centre’s uniqueness to develop more engaging experience for communities, encouraging them to use town centres which in turn create a sustainable offer.

A strong sense of policy direction, which reflects these changes, combined with a clarity of thought and flexible implementation will generate investment; with an ability to attract the initial capital required and generate an appropriate income stream or receipt, generating the necessary return.

It will also require an investment of political capital to look beyond the here and now and current land uses, to a long-term sustainable future.

For the community, it is about creating a place which they want to go to, use and to spend their time and money in. This needs to be an environment that supports the way the community live their lives; that it is inclusive across the generations, blends the digital with the physical and creates an environment that people want to experience.