Belfast Telegraph

Make high streets social hubs: study

By Josie Clarke

Bricks-and-mortar retailing can no longer be the anchor for thriving high streets, which must become community hubs that include housing, offices and some shops, according to an influential independent review.

Retail expert Bill Grimsey said it was time to accept that there was already too much retail space in the UK and town centres needed to be "repopulated and re-fashioned" with libraries and public spaces at the heart of each community.

The review is the second from a team led by the former Wickes and Iceland boss and comes amid a wave of closures and restructurings and an ongoing shift to online shopping.

It argues that greater devolution and stronger local leadership is needed to give high streets a renewed sense of purpose and identity.

Among the 25 recommendations are calls to replace business rates, create a Town Centre Commission to develop a 20-year strategy for local high streets, and accelerate digital transformation in smaller towns.

Other recommendations include the appointment of "high quality" designers to celebrate the historic character of towns.

Belfast Telegraph

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