Funding for high streets and town centres post Covid-19

Future Cities Forum will be featuring news and events this year in the area of retail and the survival of the UK's high streets and town shopping centres.

The BBC reported that 2020 'was the worst for the High Street in more than 25 years as the coronavirus accelerated the move towards online shopping'.

Architectural practice Chapman Taylor has been discussing the need for shopping centres to 'maximise their convenience and comfort to compete with the relatively frictionless world of online shopping'. This the firm says 'may include 'more relaxation zones, an enhanced leisure offer, wellness ...improving access and egress to and from centres with more frequent public transport services, secure cyclist facilities...and the provision of EV charging stations to keep customers returning on a more regular basis.'

It goes on to talk about creating a sense of community, integrating the daily lives of local residents as well as customers passing by and suggests libraries, after-school clubs, dance studios and healthcare facilities which can increase the relevance of the shopping centre outside the traditional commercial functions. Good gastronomic offers provide more reasons to dwell and recharge.

Linking shopping centres to good green public space post Covid is also important. The pandemic has shown everyone the benefit of 'well planned place-making' and Bexley Council has been concentrating on this aspect of the 'town centre.'