Rejuvenating Britain’s High Streets – What is the secret?

The state of Britain’s High Streets and their recent trend towards decline has been a topic of concern for many British stakeholders over the last few years. Whilst economic fortunes are improving, the success of the internet and out of town shopping centres are still major threats.

high_street_buildings2The Future High Streets Forum has today (31 May 2014) published a report which identifies local leadership as the ‘recipe for success’ on the high street.

Analysis of 4 Portas Pilot towns – towns selected by television’s Mary Portas to be part of her rejuvenation experiment – found that good local leadership was behind their successful reinvention. Bedminster, Dartford, Rotherham and Sydenham were examined to identify and map what lay behind their success in dealing with challenges on their high streets.

The report, produced by forum experts led by Jason Cotta of Costa Coffee, reveals the common ingredients and successful leadership behaviours were:
• local authority engagement
• sustainable and smart investment
• communicating a vision
• entrepreneurial spirit

high_street_buildings5The report concludes that any town centre, regardless of size, can benefit from good leadership habits. It advises regular reviews to ensure constant improvement and clarity of focus. The Forum also recommends that every town centre across the country puts in place a structure, direction, and a vision for their work.

The ‘Good Leadership: Great High Streets’ model recommends the following 5 steps:
1. Develop a shared local vision to drive change, perhaps as part of a Neighbourhood Development Plan.
2. Create a town strategy and action plan with a clear timetable for delivery.
3. Deliver the town strategy and action plan through expert teams.
4. Gather data to review the town strategy and action plan.
5. Establish insights and learning from the data.

Mary Portas herself has recently released 38 steps she believes are crucial to rejuvenating a high street, many of which mirror the concepts above.

Brandon Lewis, High Streets Minister and Future High Streets Forum co-chair said:

“High streets are the heartbeat of every community. The Future High Streets Forum is right to say that good local leadership is the essential ingredient for creating great high streets. Their leadership proposals will help every town centre across the country achieve the success that places like Dartford have, which in turn will future proof our high streets for decades to come.”high_street_buildings1

Simon Roberts, Managing Director, Health and Beauty UK and Republic of Ireland, Alliance Boots, and Future High Streets Forum Co-Chairman said:

“Boots has long been committed to the vitality of UK high streets and our work with the Future High Streets Forum continues this legacy of thought leadership and active local support. We are confident that the findings in this report will help to improve the management of town centres, drive strong local leadership and deliver the healthy high streets of the future which our communities require. Our store’s leadership team will be helping to implement this model with town centre management teams across the UK by championing partnership and increased local collaboration with business.”

high_street_buildings4Jason Cotta, Managing Director, Costa UK Retail and Future High Streets Forum project lead said:

We know what makes a high street great and what can turn a poor one around – good leadership – so the forum has developed a way to galvanise local leaders around a coherent game plan. To create great high streets through good leadership is just one way to address the challenges faced by the high street today. These tips will help every high street no matter where they are in the country.”

Strong leadership seems to be a vital ingredient and many communities have translated this into a Neighbourhood Development Plan.

SRJ / LCB 31/05/2014

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