Architect advises failing areas to stop focusing on retail

A report looking into the problem of Britain’s failing high streets has recently been released by a group called the Future Spaces Foundation.

The group, which was founded by the architect who designed London’s famous ‘Gherkin’ building, Ken Shuttleworth, set out the report to be an alternative to the reviews carried out by Bill Grimsey and Mary Portas.

Shuttleworth’s paper was compiled with the help of a group of architects, social and property experts, and economists. It proposes that towns should move away from the idea of attracting retailers back into their high streets. Instead, educational facilities, museums, libraries and manufacturing businesses could replace retailers in empty shop units.

Shuttleworth’s theory is that, by filling high streets with these useful and interesting alternatives, people will be drawn back into abandoned areas. As foot traffic increases, he suggests that some retail businesses will probably follow as a matter of course.

One of the report’s ideas involves making high streets “mobile-enabled”, so that shoppers could obtain information provided by local retailers on their phones. Town and city authorities could facilitate this by setting up Wi-Fi hotspots.

In North Wales, residents of towns such as Shotton have expressed dismay at the decline of their high street in recent months. If Shuttleworth is right, changing the emphasis regarding how high streets are used could help to revive such town centres and, with the aid of a North Wales architect, some former retail premises could be transformed and given a new lease of life.

Posted by Mark
March 20, 2014
Architects

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