UK High Streets Have Too Many Stores

Friday, 28th December 2018

There is a need to find alternative uses for the empty retail units, to bring back the high street as a thriving community hub. Sir John Timpson, who chaired an expert panel that looked into how the government could support traditional retailers, said that the empty shops could be put to use as houses.

In his report he recommended what he called an ‘upside down government’ approach, where local communities are given the support that they need to create their own hubs. He suggested a task force that would act as a focal point for finding solutions to the issues of falling footfall and boarded up shops, and floated the idea of a National High Street Perfect Day, where residents in individual communities would come together to tackle litter and graffiti, building a sense of pride in the local area.

He said that even with that, high streets are not likely to return to their glory days, but that they can be saved if other uses are found for the spaces. He wants to see town centres that have uses for dining, leisure, sport, the arts and culture, with any empty space being used to help alleviate the housing crisis. The idea of protecting all shops from closure is something that is unlikely to work in his view.

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