“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…
🤔 What are your reasons for #highstreet optimism…?