Today we're delighted to welcome back guest blogger Ian Pyke, who shares his thoughts on what the High Street of the future might look like...
"Our local High Streets, like dozens of others across the country, are in decline. It started with a vengeance after the financial crisis in 2009 with the likes of Woolworths, Game, Top Shop and HMV and many others all taking a hit to a greater or lesser degree.
"To compound this the inexorable rise of on-line shopping helped kill off many more well-known names, such as Toys R Us, Maplins, Barratt, JJB, Comet.
"Our High Streets became endless rows of charity shops, nail bars, coffee bars, and hairdressers. And then Covid-19 hit and the service sector and what remained of our retail shops were hit especially hard.
"Now our government has announced plans to allow conversion of commercial buildings into housing without making full planning applications once they have been empty for a certain period.
"So, we must ask ourselves, would we live on a High Street amongst the remaining shops, cafes, nail bars, pubs etc?
"Would we want to see more residential property amidst retail units?
"If the answer is no, then we need to ask ourselves what we want our High Streets to look like.
"If we yearn back to the days of a wide and varied mix of High Street shops, then we need to look at ourselves and the way we shop.
"The switch to internet shopping is helping to kill the High Street, your High Street, as we know it, and the increase of on-line buying during the lockdown will probably not fully reverse itself once we have a cure for the virus.
"So, the question is what do you want from YOUR High Street?
"Shops? What kind? What would you buy on the High Street instead of on-line? Do you want chains or local independent shops?
"The choice is in our hands, use it or lose it."
Do you have ideas about the regeneration of our town centres? We'd love to hear about them: email [email protected] to get involved in the conversation
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