High Street 2030: Achieving Change is the second report released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government alongside The High Street Report from the Expert Panel.

It provides more detail on the evidence sessions organised by the Institute of Place Management that informed the Panel’s work.The Achieving Change report was prepared by the Institute.

The report details the findings of the individual evidence sessions and concludes that we should not be looking to create identikit high streets. There is no one solution. The workshops showed the variation in towns, the different stages they are at and the different issues they are facing. However, there are some fundamental principles that can apply to all places. These are:

  • Places need leadership and partnerships: these are lacking in many locations but successful place leadership through partnerships makes a real difference. Place leadership is collaborative in approach and it needs to evolve and adapt as circumstances change. It is more a network than a hierarchy but place leaders, acting together, achieve change.
  • Places need to blend local and expert knowledge: there are local and global issues that impact on high streets. In too many cases towns make wrong choices, adapting something that has worked elsewhere when it may not be appropriate for their location. Having a good knowledge of local data and performance and working with experts to understand this is  critical to making wise decisions about the future.
  • Places need communication to flow: With new technologies we have no excuse not to communicate now. Information, knowledge, ideas, data, plans, achievements and problems can be shared and discussed as never before. We saw excellent examples of this from some of the workshops. Communication underlies and constantly recreates the town or city brand and the perceptions of potential visitors, investors and residents. Good place leadership actively facilitates communication.
  • Places need the input of their young people: Our high streets will soon be their high streets. Young people have a valuable contribution to make to the evolution and development or their town and city centres. We have seen their enthusiasm but we need to think much more constructively how we actively engage with them, involving them formally and informally. The Teenage Market is a model that does this, but much more remains to be done.
  • Places need to be served by place professionals: High streets are complex, contested places. We are used to the idea that a single building needs professional input from the outset: the architect, the engineer, the planner and so on, but in too many instances we have assumed that because everyone uses the high street anyone can care for it. It is clear from our workshops that place professionals now exist in some places. They have different backgrounds but they act in the long term interest of the place, being part of the leadership, engendering trust, sourcing knowledge and communicating with all to provide professional support for place change.

We very grateful to our members and The BID Foundation members in Holmfirth, Altrincham, Bristol and Shrewsbury, to The Teenage Market in Bolton, and to Rushmoor Borough Council in Aldershot, who brought together some two hundred local stakeholders to discuss the future of town centres. Each joined us for several hours to input their thoughts and to share their support for the high street. Each of the sessions was attended by one or more representatives of the Expert Panel and by MHCLG staff working on town centres. The findings from the sessions were fed directly back to the Expert Panel, shared with the Future High Street Forum and had a significant impact on The High Street Report and the Budget announcements.