Every week there is more gloom for the high street, whether the end of retailers such as Maplins or Toys R Us, the decline of department stores or the retreat of restaurants. And another expert produces a report. The prime minister thinks that turning shops into homes may be an answer, taking away retail floor space and producing cheap homes. Regardless of whether it is possible to create a modern home from the ground floor of a 19th century shop building, built to the back of the pavement with no amenity space and little rear access, is this really a good way to put new life into commercial centres? One lesson we need to learn from the ‘beast from the east’ is that our housing stock is ill-equipped for extremes of weather. Creating more poorly insulated, hard to heat or ventilate homes is perhaps not the most thought through policy … (To read the full article, subscribe below)

Tony Hutchinson

Tony Hutchinson is a housing consultant. He has worked for the Housing Corporation, in senior management for housing providers and has led area based renewal programmes and major capital programmes with recent examples including Streatham Hub, Watford Health Campus, The Avenue near Chesterfield and Townhill Park Southampton.