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Re-shaping the high street

With the news that another high street chain 'Coast' has gone into administration, it was timely that we held our debate on the future of the high street this week in London with the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government's Deputy Director for Regeneration & Infrastructure, Rachel Fisher.

This was part of our tenth Future Cities Forum which also looked at the impact of stadium and station led regeneration and of modern methods of construction.

Please click on the podcast with a picture of the panel, to listen to the first presentation by Rachel Fisher and the related debate with Debbie Jackson, Assistant Director, Regeneration & Economic Development at the GLA and Helen Rainsford, Senior Director at Aviva Investors. The recorded discussion also includes questions from the audience from TfL, SNC- Lavalin's Atkins Business, Savills, Old Oak & Park Royal DC and Dorrington on fragmented ownership and flexible trading hours. Helen Rainsford said that the last point might be solved partly by introducing 'staff-less and till-less stores'.

In her presentation Rachel was keen to point out that the solution to the the 'dying' UK high street, lies mainly with strong local leadership. Research has shown that there will need to be different approaches for high streets around the country and that the Metro and combined authority mayors are motivated in finding regional and local solutions.

She was joined on our discussion panel by GLA's Debbie Jackson, who stated that the high street's survival has been supported by government, with pockets of money taken from larger social and community funds, (£100 million) and that there was a strong social and civic case for doing so.

Helen Rainsford of Aviva Investors said that redevelopments - whether out of town or in city centres - work best around transport hubs, with a sustainable, all day function. TfL's Stuart Robinson brought up the issue of punitive parking schemes for out of town retail parks to drive money and interest back into the high street. Debbie Jackson concurred that town centre high street retailers feel very disadvantaged with the lack of parking spaces.

How rail station place-making impacts the high street was highlighted by Atkins' Market Director, Liam Harrison. who talked about the importance of density and footfall. Liam said there was a huge opportunity to focus on regeneration around local stations. Watch Liam's video clip below on this.

The further clip features Paula Carney, Head of Planning at WYG - in reaction to Rachel Fisher's comment that there needs to be flexibility in planning so that place-making can change as quickly as the high street shopping market:

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