Government publish the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy

16th July 2021

The Government have published the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy, which sets out their long-term plan to support the evolution of high streets into thriving places to work, visit and live. The Strategy explores how high streets and town centres can adapt in a post COVID-19 pandemic world, highlighting five key areas for action:

  1. Breathing new life into empty buildings;
  2. Supporting high street businesses;
  3. Improving the public realm;
  4. Creating safe and clean spaces; and
  5. Celebrating pride in local communities.

The sections of the document include items such as revitalising the high street and improving the public realm. The Strategy makes a range of suggestions, including:

  • Encouraging councils to use Compulsory Purchase Orders for long-term empty properties and where property owners are stalling regeneration plans.
  • The temporary pavement license measure will be extended for a further 12 months, subject to Parliamentary approval, and they commit in principle to making them permanent.
  • The Government has asked local transport authorities to produce Bus Service Improvement Plans by the end of October this year. These plans will be developed in collaboration with communities and businesses.
  • Review planning practice guidance in relation to litter, to provide further advice on how planning conditions can reasonably be applied to prevent and clean up litter caused by fast food outlets which are most likely to generate it.
  • A focus on improving the safety of public places for women and girls and improving women and girls’ feelings of safety in these places.
  • To help local areas set expectations of design quality in their area, the Government intends to establish an ‘Office for Place’ within the next year, to pioneer design and beauty within the planning system.

It will be interesting to see what from this Strategy is implemented, and in what form, as it could have positive impacts on the high street if used correctly. If correctly implemented, we could see a reversal in the decline of the high street – with them once more becoming a focal point for economic success.

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