London’s 200 high streets are vital for local economic growth, but face a number of challenges. This report provides 13 recommendations to place boroughs at the centre of local economic development in their high streets and town centres.
With more than half of London’s jobs, three quarters of developable brownfield land and large strategic housing sites in close proximity, London’s 200 high streets are vital for local economic growth. But, despite their potential to derive economic benefits for local communities and London, our high streets are facing a number of challenges that, if left unaddressed, will inhibit their growth.
Many of the challenges town centres are facing are caused by changes in consumption patterns and what people want from their high streets. This has been exacerbated by local places not having the relevant powers and tools to respond and improve the ‘offer’ available for local residents. Ease, choice and experience are cited as some of the core components missing from high streets. Without the tools which enable local responsiveness to deal with the impact of these changes, it is likely high streets will continue to struggle. Some existing policy responses have attempted to tackle these issues, but they do not go far enough.
One of the defining features of local town centres is that they are all diverse and a variety of solutions are needed to meet the challenges created by this diversity; this is why power needs to be given to local government to design responsive and locally meaningful interventions. The economic success of London’s various local centres and high streets will be reliant on different factors in different locations. This makes creating an all-encompassing policy response to the challenges being faced by high streets difficult to achieve. However, providing boroughs and local stakeholders with the tools they require to respond to the differing circumstances of their local town centres will bring about positive outcomes for the capital.