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Future High Street Summit to show that hope is not lost for our towns and cities


Future High Street Summit to show that hope is not lost for our towns and cities

  • Event will be first to hear findings of brand new report
  • Case study of Great British High Street Awards’ Winner of Winners
  • Barr Gazetas Architects’ founder to share ideas on town regeneration

The Future High Street Summit 2015 is pleased to announce that it will be the first event where the findings of a brand new report will be presented on the challenges faced by the UK’s towns and cities.

The report is the result of collaboration between professional bodies in the regeneration industry, including the Institute of Economic Development (IED), the Association of Town and City Management, the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors, the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) and the Town and Country Planning Association.

Keith Burge, Managing Director of research consultancy ERS, who is presenting the findings at the Future High Street Summit, explains that the report is the organisations’ response to an article in The Economist, which stated, “Governments should not try to rescue failing towns”.

Despite the recommendation to the government, the findings will demonstrate that industry leaders remain committed to the UK’s town and cities. Keith comments, “This is the first time that leading professional bodies working in economic development and regeneration have offered collective views from people who work in and care about our underperforming towns and cities.”

Keith will speak alongside Craig McLaren, Director of Scotland and Ireland at RTPI. Craig will discuss the need to think beyond the High Street and retailing to promote enterprise and community in town centres. This will draw on experiences in Scotland and the approach being taken through its Town Centre Action Plan.

This forms part of the session on Day One of the Summit, ‘What are the characteristics of a successful high street?’. The session will dissect the commonalities and differences between success and failure in town and city centres, and, in addition to Keith and Craig, will welcome several other expert speakers from various industries.

Clare Rayner, Founder of the Future High Street, comments, “We’re very excited to hear what these industry leaders believe are the main barriers to development in the UK’s towns and cities.

“As retailers enter the last critical shopping days before Christmas, and with many high streets suffering ongoing decline in footfall as consumers favour online and out-of-town alternatives, one might be forgiven for believing the high street is dead. The government is being urged to write off our ailing towns but it’s heartening to see that there are still organisations who believe otherwise.

She continues, “Our event is all about high street regeneration and we want delegates to see that there is help out there. This report will demonstrate where the problems lie and help our attendees address those issues in their own communities.”

Award-winning speakers

Ultimately, all towns and cities have the chance of success if their inhabitants are dedicated enough to apply the necessary improvements.

One such town is Belper in Derbyshire, which last week was awarded the ‘Winner of Winners’ in the Great British High Street Awards, after winning first place in the Market Town category.

Local campaigners Ian Jackson and Adrian Farmer will deliver a joint presentation at the Future High Street Summit to demonstrate Belper’s achievements and the commitment behind them.

Ian comments, “It’s the collaboration of community groups like Transition Belper and the Arts Festival working with businesses, including some outstanding independent retailers, and supported by the local authority, that repeatedly puts the High Street at the heart of Belper.”

Adrian adds, “Every high street has a history, and heritage-led regeneration in Belper – restoring lost character and celebrating the quirky and unusual – has helped create a sense of pride in the town. It’s amazing to see the lengths people will go to when they are proud of their surroundings and want their community to succeed and be the best.”

Collaborative, community-led regeneration is certainly achieving the best results across the country, and the Future High Street Summit organisers are hoping to emphasise this throughout the two days of the conference.

The session’s final speaker, Alistair Barr, Founder and Managing Director of Barr Gazetas Architects, will lead delegates through an analysis of four very different retail environments which the firm is currently designing: Greenwich High Street, Camden Market, Christchurch High Street and Regent Street.

He will demonstrate how a people-centric approach to designing these built areas is the key to improving the retail experience and will share his ideas on how to transform any high street into a future-proof, flexible shopping environment.

Alistair explains, “We are currently working on four projects that focus on putting community back into the heart of the high street. We design precise interventions, which create large enhancements to town centres. As an urban designer, I am passionate about creating successful high streets, because these are the places where we play out our lives. We all need to ensure they have a bright future!”

The Future High Street will be held at Nottingham Conference Centre within Nottingham Trent University on 25th and 26th March. For more information on the event and to see an outline agenda with the other featured high street factors, delegates can visit the Future High Street Summit website.

Tickets for the conference are on sale now and attendees can sign up at

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