Hot on the heels of the Portas Review, the Department for Communities and Local Government [DCLG] has published a guide on how to breathe new life into town centres which can no longer rely solely on retail to attract footfall.
Re-imagining urban spaces to help revitalise our high streets involved 19 different organisations including the Town and Country Planning Association, English Heritage and the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment [CABE].
A forward by communities secretary Eric Pickles and housing minister Grant Shapps makes clear that the responsibility for regeneration rests with local players saying the government "supported the vast majority of [the] Mary Portas [review] . . . . the next step is over to you."
"There is no point in simply chasing the traditional model of the high street - a place where people come together to shop. Retail is an important element of a thriving town centre, but it’s not sufficient. Instead, you need to re-imagine your high street and town centre, and drive towards a new future where people come together for many different reasons. Simply continuing as you are is not an option."
It cites the example of Prince Charles’ flagship development Poundbury in Dorset, which has de-cluttered its streets and created its own version of a 'shared space' like New Road in Brighton where cars and pedestrians intermingle. Bath is also singled out for its “uplifting architecture, café culture and street performance.”
The government is also consulting on the relaxation of the use class rules in an attempt to allow more temporary uses of empty shops. Eric Pickles said: "Leaving empty shops to rot is a wasted economic opportunity that spoils the town centre - that is why we are proposing to scrap the damaging red tape that is keeping so many boarded up. This change can unleash our young entrepreneurs to open pop-up shops and turn the high streets into an exciting start-up launch pad.”
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