The Future High Street Fund: inspiration for success

The Gallery, 70 Cowcross St., London EC1M 6EJ
Thu, 28/02/2019 (All day)

The Future High Street Fund: inspiration for success  

28 February 2019: Half day conference with presentations from a cross section of the UK’s leading experts on regeneration, public realm and design aiming to inspire councils and communities to create successful bids for the £675 million future high streets fund, and the success of their own communities. Featuring original research, UK and international best practice, and case studies.

A big thank you to the practices, and individuals who took part in the event, and who were so generous in sharing their ideas: BE1, Levitt Bernstein, IBI, LSH, Philip Cave and Associates, David Harrison, Historic England, Farrells, Turley, Living Streets, Tibbalds, Metropolitan Workshop, Nicholas Pearson Associates, Hosta Consulting, Nash Consulting, Broadway Malyan.






Leo Hammond




David Harrison

The Origins of Markets, Shops and High Streets



Philip Cave Assoicates

Manford Streetscape



Philip Cave Assoicates

Market Squares



Historic England, Clive Fletcher

Heritage and the High Street - Derby



IBI, David McKenna

Creating Places from Streets and Spaces



Levitt Bernsteain, Glyn Tully

Brentwood - A Design-led  Vision



Metropolitan Workshop, Ivo Barros

Balham High Road  - Somewhere not Anywhere



Living Streets, Rachel Lee

The Pedestrian Pound



Living Streets, Paul Gasson

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods and the Revival of High Streets



Tibbalds, Richard Crutchley

Quality Community Facilities - the secret to successfuh streets



Turley, Cat White

Making Sense of Mixed-use town centres



Hosta Consulting, Helen taylor

Greening the High Street




Recognise the different settings for high streets. From low-density car-based suburbs, to dense inner-cities; from affluent middle-class areas, to depressed industrial towns.  Each will require a different approach.

Don’t fixate on retail as being the sole future of the towns.  Most towns started with a mix of manufacture, commerce, retail and residential and leisure.

Death of clone towns. It is the larger chains that have tended to close, small independents are proving much more resilient.

There has always been change. Over decades shops come and go, over centuries high streets and longer periods still, entire settlements



Think beyond the high street. It is part of a larger socio-economic system – not a stand-alone entity.

Retail spend is limited by the amount people earn. This makes retail a zero-sum game – a pound spent in one place is a pound not spent in another. 

Local economic multiplier. Money that is spent in the town through local businesses will circulate within the town and will adds to activity.  Money that is spent on national or internationally owned businesses leaves the town.

Expand the non-retail side of the economy

  • Promote commercial and manufacturing sector
  • Skilled people – invest in schools including university technical colleges
  • Enable enterprise
  • Use empty shops and offices as low-cost business starter units
  • Provide accommodation that matches the demand – adjust the size of units to the range of size of potential and new business
  • Open markets to new traders, hold suitcase markets
  • Promote leisure
  • Promote quality of experience: attractive Streets; small parks; community facilities, libraries, museums, town hall

Encourage investment. Think about how the town is perceived

Get more people using the town centre. Improve Pedestrian and Cycle access

Most pounds are pedestrian pounds

  • Improve the public realm
  • Widen footways
  • Provide safe crossings
  • Reduce pedestrian crossing signal wait time
  • Reduce traffic speed, weight and volume
  • Create low traffic neighbourhoods adjoining the town centre
  • Plant trees for beauty, shelter, shade and temperature control
  • Eliminate barriers - most town centres are surrounded by a ring of heavy roads and extensive surface level car parks that are often very badly maintained.  These block pedestrians and cyclists, are unpleasant to travel through, and waste space that could be used for housing and other development.

Increase the number of people within walking/cycling distance of the town centre

  • Turn car parks into housing or other uses
  • Increase the density of housing development
  • Encourage positive use of space over shops
  • Increase the distance people will be prepared to walk or cycle by improving the quality of the routes

Eliminate neglect

  • Sort out the physical appearance of the town- Make sure everything is well maintained, and looks cared for. 
  • Use the available tools, including: Code of Practice on Litter and Refuse – Litter abatement orders; S215 Untidy land  
  • Tidy the public realm
  • Improve shop fronts

Further reading: Broken Window Theory/Pro-social behaviour

Identify and build on the towns USP. Protect and enhance what is already there:

  • Local architectural styles,
  • Local materials,
  • Local traditions,
  • Local products
  • Cluster similar types of business to create character zones

Inject life – physical works are not enough

  • Festivals
  • Performance art
  • Markets
  • Fun
  • Don’t over-regulate

History – understand the past to help predict the future

  • Towns collapse post Roman, but started again in a variety of ways: international trading centres, development round monasteries, fortified ‘towns’ in response to Viking raids
  • Markets from Anglo-Saxon period, and many more from 12 century
  • International products– sold at big annual fairs – such as spices, or cloths not produced locally, but declined in importance and became places of entertainment  (market – something that happens regular
  • Shops  - many surviving medieval examples – earliest from 12 century
  • Shops with glazed fronts began to emerge in the 18 and 19 centuries as the glass became more affordable
  • Living above the shop – all traditional shops included accommodation above
  • Covered markets Market crosses from Middle Ages, but big covered markets date back to the 18th century
  • Chain stores emerge in the mid 19 century
  • Department stores emerge in the mid 19 century
  • Car-based shopping centres began to emerge in the 1950s,
  • Supermarkets – ubiquitous from the 1960s
  • Out-of-town shopping centres – 1970s, and then gigantic malls



Always has been change so decline of the chain store is natural

Never just retail centres. Historic towns and citieswere always were mixed economies, mixed use, high density populations with people living in the centre

Central government has played a significant role in the development of towns.

Governance. Many towns and cities no longer have significant powers, and are little more than parish councils, and lack ability to raise own funding.  They can’t do the things they could in the past.

Parking. Towns are blighted bylow value car parks.


   Presentations from the event