It is clear the British High Street will never be the same post Covid-19 and we need to find ways to regenerate our town centres in a post Covid-19 world. This should be looked at against the wider context of the levelling up agenda, creation of more residential/multi purpose spaces and realisation of increased exercise areas to tackle our growing obesity epidemic. As increasing square footage of retail spaces falls vacant we have an opportunity for a root and branch review of our town centres and their purpose.
In many town centres betting shops, charity shops and empty premises proliferate making them unattractive to visit and driving down footfall. We should consider subsidies to encourage hospitality and experience providers to move in – providing an industry so detrimentally impacted by Covid-19 to bounce back. Subsidised exercise facilities should also be considered as a means to rejuvenate empty spaces, including means to provide facilities for teenagers and children to exercise regularly and safely and set them up for a life with the importance of physical exercise for a happy and healthy life – so relieving longer term, future pressures on health services.
Community facilities can be put at the heart of these revived areas – raising the profiles and accessibility of our libraries, cultural centres and green spaces, and in turn generating increased usage will have a positive impact.
Multi-purpose spaces can also be used more widely so as to increase the quantity and quality of town centre residential accommodation. First time buyer accommodation in or around town centres is limited and therefore expensive, but by increasing supply we can re-balance the equation and make t easier for first time buyers to enter the housing market.