Reasons to be…

“What reasons are there for optimism about our high streets…?”

🎤 It’s a question I was asked at a panel event this week, and every day since we’ve seen examples from different places that well illustrate my answer.

You could include in that just from recent threads I’ve seen:

  • the ongoing ‘Our Union Street’ initiative in Aberdeen;
  • 📹 a mayor – council collaboration in Barnsley town centre showcased in a new video;
  • Grimsby’s 2025 Group;
  • 💡 Sparks Bristol;
  • Dolphin Shopping Centre, Poole;
  • the latest update by Gainsborough’s Townscape Heritage Initiative.

…and more, no doubt. Case studies that #placemaking and #property colleagues would add.

My actual response at the forum in South Gloucestershire, which is one of our #TheVacantShopsAcademy locations that have had and are beginning work on delivering elements of their ‘next steps’, started with this:

“The strongest reason for optimism here is that you’re on the case.” 👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

One of the (many) really frustrating things about the ‘death of the…’ narrative is that it’s swamping sooooo much good, proactive, partnership working and projects that are making a difference in our town and city centres.

🫣 True, we are still seeing places that aren’t yet underway because of other priorities, lack of capacity or funding, or in some cases a belief that tackling vacancy “is just an agent-landlords thing”. And if you don’t start a journey…

But still.

🤔 What are your reasons for #highstreet optimism…?

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