URBAN REGENERATION

A view from the street, looking up at a row of buildings. Most of the buildings are in shade except the apex of one roof, which appears to glow in the sunlight

Urban regeneration is simply defined as the process of reversing the effects of what I like to call the 3Ds:

  • DOWNTURN
  • DECAY
  • DERELICTION

However, wherever there is a wasteland, there is also an opportunity and, with a little creative vision, high streets experiencing social decline can be transformed into areas of economic growth. It’s all about repurposing existing buildings and introducing mixed-use developments that better represent the needs of the community such as; residences, workplaces, retail, health and public spaces.

According to Essential Retail magazine, retail businesses with large footprints, especially those with large format stores and long lease terms, will struggle in 2018. We’ve all heard about House of Fraser and New Look seeking CVAs (company voluntary arrangements), legal agreements allowing rent reduction negotiations and store closures amid concerns over poor sales figures. These have come under recent scrutiny believed to simply delay the demise rather than rescue the business. Maplins, Poundworld and Toys R Us have all fallen into administration and it seems a failure to adapt to industry changes has left the traditional retail business model no longer fit for purpose in the modern digital world.

A closed sign, signifying retail shop closures as business and urban environments fall into decline

What does this mean for the future of UK high streets? Creative thinking is required for the changing environment because these days people want to work in places where they can make a life and not just a living. Thoughtful regeneration that considers the needs of the community it serves will attract investment and offer future security in the ebb and flow of shifting consumer habits. We need to create spaces that encourage collaboration and creativity to bring in the best talent and nurture the best ideas.

If we consider the future by reimagining the buildings in our high street as more vibrant, exciting and inspiring places we provide them with a whole new lease of life. Flexible and sustainable spaces to suit an increasingly diverse workforce are the essential fabric of the community, places we can experience, live, learn, work, develop and grow.

Street view of thriving urban environment. Lots of people fill the town centre streets which are full of life and vibrancy. Street musicians entertain shoppers in this busy high street location.