I was going through some archived stuff, and found this, written in 2009. Back then, the general consensus was that small shops had failed, and over the next couple of years Mary Portas and Bill Grimsey backed up that idea, producing reports that said the High Street was dead, and big supermarkets were the way forward. Now, Tesco is failing and has cancelled big store builds, the supermarkets are buying up pubs to open as smaller stores, and the latest report says that the High Street is back.
It’s a recession, so we need to restore and revive the high street. But after that, it’s time to reinvent and reimagine our town centres as we try to find again the balance between business and community.
Let’s make town centres places for swapping and sharing, as well as spending.
Let’s fill them with debate and discussion. Let’s make town centres about ideas and inspiration, as well as just investment. Let’s make town centre’s friendly and flexible. Let’s make them public, not private. Let’s make town centres about local business and local distinctiveness, as well as big business and branding.
Let’s create spaces that are nests, so small businesses can learn to fly. Let’s make spaces that are social, so people can come together and find common ground. Let’s find ways for people of every age, every shape, every size and every budget to fit in our town centres.
Let’s explore spaces that are dead, and fill them with life.
Let’s do it ourselves.
Let’s get started right now.