A think tank led by Make’s Ken Shuttleworth has set out plans to save the UK’s ailing high streets
A new report by the Future Spaces Foundation (FSF), which was formed by Shuttleworth last year, has claimed that towns’ economies could be boosted by around £30m a year by bringing more people and new uses to the town centre.
The Future High Street: Perspectives on living, earning and livelihoods in our communities has called for businesses, universities, industry and even old people’s homes to the relocate to high streets; the theory being that cafés, restaurants and shops will follow.
The FSF applied its theory to three towns – Stoke-on-Trent, Barnsley and Swindon – using a computer model. In Stoke the annual increase to the local economy was calculated as £30.3 million, it also claimed 642 new jobs were created.
The report calls for:
- A focus on bringing learning opportunities into the centre of towns and cities when considering the expansion of existing facilities or development of new ones
- Greater community empowerment in the planning process, including the formation of a youth consultation panel to ensure the opinions of the community of the future are considered
- Simplification of planning processes to enable town centre buildings and sites to be converted to uses that match demand
Shuttleworth, who currently chairs the FSF, said he hoped the inaugural report would be a ‘wake up call’ for policy makers: ‘The Future Spaces Foundation was formed to look beyond short-term solutions and existing debates – and we believe this, our inaugural report, has done just that.
‘We hope these findings will be a wake-up call for policy makers and commentators to finally accept that we need to think creatively when approaching the problems on our high streets.
‘Without a significant shift in perspective, we are in danger of losing these spaces and seeing our town centres as we know them disappear forever,’ said Shuttleworth.
The Future Spaces Foundation panellists:
- Dr Ken Shuttleworth, Founder, Make Architects
- John Prevc, Founding Partner, Make Architects
- Paul Swinney, Senior Economist, Centre for Cities
- Gavin Kelly, Chief Executive, The Resolution Foundation
- Alan Davey, Chief Executive, the Arts Council England
- Emeka Egbuonu, Community and anti-gang worker and author
- Andrew Stevenson, Senior Lecturer, Department of Psychology, Manchester Metropolitan University
- Keith Clarke CBE, Built Environment Industry Expert
- Stephen Lucas, Economist
- James Bellini, Futurologist
- Dr Peter Jones, Professor of Transport and Sustainability, University College London
- Annemarie Naylor, Director, Common Futures
- Sean Gillies, Executive Director, Retail, Savills