High Street Regeneration – serve the local community

Rejuvenation and regeneration of the traditional High Street

 The traditional High Street has been in trouble for some time, in part caused by the rise of the Regional Shopping Centre and the out-of-town superstores.

The current recession has exacerbated the problems of these traditional town centres, with some areas reporting very high vacancy rates.

 I have been working on ideas to help local shops and High Streets reinvent themselves and fight back, and as I have been on my travels I think I have spotted an interesting phenomena: Although there seems to be a lot of empty shop units in many of the ‘old’ traditional High Streets, I have noticed that in many of the tertiary shopping centres (the equivalent of the suburban shopping parades) there seem to be very few empty shops. I haven’t done any in depth research to back up but this is what my observations seem to say: in many places I have found not one empty shop!

I suspect that these tertiary centres are working because they are serving their immediate residential population with their day-to-day needs and wants such as green-grocers, bakers, butchers, chemists, newsagents, take-aways, restaurants etc, as well as specialist independent shops which people are willing to travel to.  I am going to visit more suburban parades/tertiary centres to see how widespread my observations are, but if they are I think this shows that some of the old High Streets need to recognise that they are no longer the central business district that they used to be, and are now perhaps large tertiary centres, and so need to reinvent themselves to serve the day-to-day needs of their immediate hinterland just like the local parades are doing.  This isn’t the whole story, and not every the traditional high street is the same, but some may have to reinvent themselves to reflect this change in the retail hierarchy. Essentially they have to think ‘who are my customers and what do they want’.


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2 Responses to High Street Regeneration – serve the local community

  1. simon hinds says:

    Interesting. Could also mean life style changes. Maybe households are reducing their shopping trips to the High Street where they obtain a large amount of goods and are making more little purchases near where they live.

  2. edrec says:

    I think this is a really interesting observation. Generally, I think that the suburban and the ‘town’ are maginalised in regeneration and economic development discussions, in favour of cities and other large urban forms. I’d be keen to hear about your further observations. Two things jump to mind about this concept. 1. What has been the impact of rising fuel prices and job losses on ‘closer to home’ shopping? 2. What kinds of data exist that can be used to survey this phenomena more widely?

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