The high street has long been a crucial part of local communities, but the rise of online shopping and the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a significant shift away from physical retail. The result has been a decline in high street footfall, with many stores closing, leading to an oversupply of retail space.
However, this situation presents an opportunity for councils, communities, and developers to work together to reimagine the high street and create mixed-use schemes that can help to revitalise local economies and communities. With a flexible planning framework and an oversupply of retail space, developers, planners, and investors are eager to take the initiative.
One of the challenges in redeveloping the high street is the fractured ownership, inconsistent building lines, narrow roads, poor transport infrastructure, a lack of communal activities, and place making. However, with compulsory purchase powers and collaborative joint venture partners, local authorities can create a coherent curation of place, buildings, and services.
Developers must engage early with communities, planning officers, and funders to plan schemes that meet local requirements, reduce pollution, and satisfy investment metrics. Local planning authorities can also draw up local strategies to provide a positive vision for the future of each area and use compulsory purchase order powers to help developers acquire land efficiently. The redevelopment of London‘s suburban high streets requires a holistic approach that can revive local communities and local economies.
Mixed-use redevelopment can become a more attractive investment offering, delivering social and economic impact benefits for the community and dispersed risk and investment returns for the investors. In conclusion, the reimagining of the high street presents a unique opportunity for councils, communities, and developers to work together to create a diverse blend of asset classes that can breathe new life back into neighborhoods. With a flexible planning framework, collaborative thinking, and a focus on social and economic value creation, the future of the high street in London can be bright.