I am a nobody in the scale of things but I did sit through the parliament debate about the issues effecting our Town Centers and High Streets.
I have listened to many people talk about the problems that are addressed in the Portas report that cover issues regarding, out of town shopping complexes, car parking, vacant shops in the high streets , lack of foot fall in the town centre and the lack of money that circulates within the original shopping precincts.
Well, the council have already approved these Out-of-Town developments which have monopolize the shopping industry and provided a shopping experience in one area with every connivence including free car parking.
This is the reality of the situation, and it has left a large volume of retailers heading for these centers as the volume of shoppers flock to them and spend their money. As a result to varying degrees the high streets are left stranded, abandoned, empty and vacant.
How I view this; is that when the high streets were first designed, they were the shopping precincts of the area but also remember the population was lower, the volume of vehicles didn’t exist and no one walked around with a phone in their pocket and computers were unheard of for the local public.
We have evolved and now we can shop in large modern shopping centers and browse at our leisure. We can sit in the warmth our our homes and shop online and get everything delivered to our door, without ever venturing out of our comfort zone.
I believe the high streets have had their day and it is over……
So…. now the high streets have to re-invent themselves as a new identity within this day and age. The high street come with history, past interactions and transaction and social engagements. I believe that this should be restored instead of trying to revamp them to compete with todays technology and modern structures.
I believe different retail experience needs to exist within the high streets with a respect to the history that is at the heart of the place. Markets were once the only way of buying and selling products and produce, and they were the hub of society. Lets try and restore that….. A place that provides a social hub and a different retail experience to the larger shopping complexes. Lets acknowledge the History, the heritage and the uniqueness.
Close off high streets, fill them full of market traders, craftsmen, food masters, artisans , local musicians and provide a cultural shopping experience to shoppers that is opposite to the larger complexes. Encourage local people to try making, baking and selling products and produce. Change the planning laws, only have short leases in the high streets and free car parking is a must. Provide opportunities to a variety of people including our young. Give people the choice to decide who and how they spend their money. We are still social creatures and enjoy interacting which has largely been taken from us with technology. Bring it back..bring back the traders who first made the high streets. It is like restoring the history back into the towns.
This should not be in competition with the big guys but provide a unique experience which has been proven through some of the successful markets within this country already.