Published: 3rd Jul 2019
A 90p shop on High Street, Abingdon. Image credit: Bill Boaden.

The government has launched a new High Streets Task Force to support local authorities in revitalising their high streets and town centres.

The High Streets Task Force – which will be comprised of high street experts – will give guidance and advice to local authorities looking to boost their town centres and survive shifting consumer habits.

The task force has been created in response to the High Street Experts Panel, which argued that local communities having a vision for high streets and town centres is key to their undergoing successful change.

Announcing the new Task Force, high streets minister Jake Berry said: ‘High streets and the way we use them are changing, and this government is committed to helping communities to adapt.

‘We want to see vibrant town centres where people live, shop, use services and spend their leisure time.

‘But in order to evolve successfully, high streets must meet the needs of their local community and the key to this is strong local leadership.

‘This is why we are providing additional support through a High Streets Task Force, drawing on the best expert advice, training and data that are available.’

The task force will work with local authorities receiving money from the government’s £675m Future High Streets Fund.

It will be run by the Institute of Place Management (IPM) which has pulled together a consortium of high street experts with a wide range of expertise, including planning and design.

In addition to advice from the task force, local authorities will also be able to access to up-to-date data on consumer behaviour to help them draw up and implement their high street plans.

The task force is set to initiate contact with local authorities and agree on a project plan with the government over the summer months.

Professor Cathy Parker, a co-chair of the IPM, said: ‘We are looking forward to working with our partners through the High Streets Task Force.

‘With support and investment from the government and professionals across the country, we have a fantastic opportunity to develop places that are really valued by the local communities they serve.’

The news follows the announcement of other high street initiatives such as the £15m Transforming Places Through Heritage Fund and Historic England’s £44m High Streets Heritage Action Zones (HSHAZ) scheme.

The Transforming Places Through Heritage Fund will look to fund ‘creative reuse’ of local historic buildings such as pubs, cinemas or shops, while the HSHAZ will help ailing high streets fund repairs and conversions which ‘restore and enhance’ local historic character.

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