How to save our town centres


How to save our town centresFor several years we have been working to promote a new, citizen-centred approach to the future of our high streets and town centres. Julian’s book, How to Save Our Town Centres, was published by Policy Press in February 2015 and has already been highly praised.

Why do town centres matter? The short answer is that they have been at the heart of human interaction ever since human beings started living in urban settlements. They are of immense cultural, social and physical importance. Yet the last half-century has seen a steady stripping away of the functions that helped to create local communities.

This section of our site brings together our recent work and thinking on the future of high streets and town centres, and our vision of what the high street of the future could be.

In 2011 we coordinated a submission to the Portas Review of the high street in England, explaining why any serious attempt to think about the future of the high street or town centres should go well beyond the usual debates about retail. This paper, The 21st Century Agora, was produced collaboratively with the help of a range of leading thinkers and doers including Action for Market Towns, Meanwhile Space, the Empty Shops Network, WiganPlus, Research 00/: and Incredible Edible Todmorden.

We also worked with the team that produced Understanding High Street Performance, the evidence review published alongside the Portas Review. We’ve been involved in taking the debate further since then, coordinating the first High Street Camp ‘unconference’ in May 2012, speaking at numerous events and giving evidence to two inquiries by the London Assembly – one on empty shops, and the other on the future of London’s town centres. Julian was the keynote speaker at the Mainstreet Australia conference in Melbourne in 2013 (you can see the presentation from that event here) and has spoken at numerous other events and conferences on the future of town centres.

Below are links to some key resources and information:

We also produce an occasional newsletter specifically about high streets and town centres. To subscribe please click here.