Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Community Hub Plan for High Streets

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Community Hub Plan for High Streets

Article excerpt

Byline: HARRIET LINE Business reporter business@ncjmedia.co.uk @Jnlbusiness

THE UK high street has twice as many shops as it needs and a community-driven approach is needed to rejuvenate the retail sector, according to a report on the future of town centres.

Businessman Sir John Timpson, who chaired an expert panel asked on how the Government can help ailing high streets, suggested empowering local leaders to reinvent town centres.

He recommended an "Upside Down Government" approach to enable community figures to design future town centres that recreate a "community hub".

Sir John said that retail will not return to the high streets that existed 10 or 20 years ago, but he put forward suggestions to help places overcome the "difficult structural issues and changes" they face.

He advocated communities celebrating their town centres with a "National High Street Perfect Day" to tackle litter and graffiti, so people can "take pride" in their local shopping centres.

"Everyone can improve high street and town centre housekeeping through a determined campaign to eliminate litter and graffiti," he wrote in The High Street Report.

"Our suggestion is to have a 'National High Street Perfect Day' - one day in the year when every shopping street looks the best it possibly can. This should be a locally led and funded initiative that draws on expertise from a range of partners."

And he said reimagining town centres should not be seen as a "central programme dictated by Government".

Sir John said: "It is a series of locally inspired and led initiatives that are supported by a Government that offers information and Sir John Timpson helps to clear obstacles out of the way.

"I think of it as 'Upside Down Government': providing help on a town by town basis, enabling local leaders to design future town centres that recreate a community hub. …

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