14 Shops closed per day in the UK last year, according to research undertaken by PricewaterhouseCoopers.
A recent (Feb 2012, Guardian article) study of 700 town centres showed more than 30% of shops in Stockport lie empty against 6% in Cambridge, evidence of a north south divide. It is also argued that the pop up phenomena is an unsustainable middle class response with an over emphasis on cupcakes. What are the solutions to reinvigorating our town centres and high street? Is there a value to ‘tinkering around the edges’ or is a radical new approach required?
The Government commissioned the Portas Review, and has launched a competition to choose 12 towns to become ‘Portas Pilots’, with the winners benefiting from a share of £1million to help turn around their ‘unloved and unused’ high streets (deadline 30 March).
The Mayor of London's Outer London Fund is helping to secure a brighter future for a number of town centres.
Projects in Streatham and West Norwood are using food as a focus, with the Streatham Food Festival and a Slow Foof Festival, and the successful monthly event the West Norward Feast.
See our previous D&I articles on the interrelationship between food and architecture / placemaking.
The architecture centres are involved in a range of initiatives:
The Architecture Foundation
The Architecture Foundation is working with a range of partners in Willesden Green to secure access to empty shops along a section of Willesden Green High Road and Walm Lane and to make these premises available for suitable start up businesses, community groups, projects and individuals to try out their ideas.
Out of PLACE
PLACE has been appointed as the Northern Ireland partner to deliver regional outreach for somewhereto_ , the programme has utilised a range of places and spaces.
Architecture + Design Scotland
Has a great exhibition currently on at The Lighthouse, High Street.
In Scotland the High Street began as a marketplace, a hub of social activity - busy, raucous and messy. This exhibition shows its evolution, our changing shops and shopping habits, and the impact this has had today. Specially commissioned films gather people's stories of the High Street and document a recent journey through 15 Scottish High Streets. It suggests remedies to ensure our future High Streets are sustainable and thriving places.
There are a range of interesting initiatives happening across the country:
Urban Pollinator's High Street Camp event is to share and record new thinking and inspire people to take action.
Citizen Power is a collaboration between the citizens of Peterborough, the RSA, Arts Council and Peterborough City Council to explore new ways of making the city a better place to live.
Changing Chelmsford is a collaboration between the citizens of Chelmsford, the RSA, Academy of Urbanism and Essex City Council to explore new ways of making Chelmsford a a more successful place. View it here.
Other Links & Info: