local government

The Next Steps for Revitalising High Streets in the UK 

local government

08:45 - 15:40

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Central London

This Forum offers attendees the opportunity to examine the latest developments in drastically overturning negative trends across UK high streets. Attendees will hear how business rate cuts and the Future High Streets Fund, both announced in the Autumn Budget 2018, can kick-start the drive towards securing a positive future for high streets in the face of rising online retail markets. Additionally, this event will provide scope to hear from innovative best practice case studies driving footfall via property builds, events, community engagement and digital transformation.


This Forum is specifically designed for Local Government. Typical job titles will include:

  • Business Improvement District (BID) Managers
  • Business Development Managers
  • Town Centre Officers
  • Regeneration Managers
  • Economic Development Managers
  • Councillors
  • Local Economy Managers
  • Directors of Housing and Development
  • Principal Planning Officers
  • City Development Managers
  • Enterprise Managers
  • City Centre Managers
  • Community Officers
  • Planning and Commissioning Managers
  • Digital Skills Leads
  • Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) Chairs

The forum is also open to the wider Public Sector as well as the Private, Academic and Voluntary Sectors.

Key Speakers Confirmed:
  • Councillor Graham Galpin, Member, High Streets Experts Advisory Panel 
  • Brigid Simmonds OBE, Member, Future High Streets Forum and, Chief Executive, British Beer and Pubs Association 
  • Alex Schlagman, Co-Founder, Save the High Street.org 
  • Dean Christy, Managing Director, Corn Exchange Crickhowell and Chris Davies MP, Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnorshire 
View the agenda and additional speakers


UK high streets are experiencing a drastic decline in consumer engagement and footfall. Footfall fell by 3.2% in November 2018 compared to the same month in 2017 for the twelfth consecutive month, the biggest year on year decrease since the recession in 2008. To compound this issue, shop vacancies are rising, with 9,500 shops closing in 2018 and 10,200 set to close in 2019. Up to 200,000 high street jobs are also predicted to be cut by 2020, on top of the 150,000 that have been cut since 2016. This is put down, largely, to the changing nature of retail towards online platforms. In the past ten years, internet sales as a percentage of total retail sales have risen from 4% to 18%.

The Government’s 2018 Autumn Budget Plan for the High Street aims to tackle these struggling trends, with Chancellor Phillip Hammond vowing to cut business rates by a third for 90% of retail properties from April 2019. The Government also committed to take strategic action to ensure high streets keep up with evolving consumer patterns by creating a Future High Streets Fund valued at £675 million. This fund will be invested in driving digital solutions, supporting new housing development and sustaining local projects. Additionally, the High Street Expert Advisory Panel released The High Street Report in December 2018, which sets out the role of the High Streets Task Force in acting as a voice for high street revitalisation. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) also launched the Open Doors Project in November 2018, which strategies the conversion of empty retail units into homes and community hubs. Strategies and funding are finally being realigned to reverse the declining trends in high streets.

However, without local authorities actively engaging with local businesses and landlords, there is a danger these concerning trends will continue. Local authorities must embrace a multidimensional stance on high street renewal, which means focusing on driving footfall through residential housing, embracing digital advancements and driving forward community campaigns. If this can be done, there is a real chance to once again create thriving high streets across the UK.


Registration, Refreshments and Networking


Chair's Welcome Address

Graham Wilson OBE, Chief Executive, National Association of British Market Authorities (NABMA) (CONFIRMED)


Morning Keynote: Working in Partnership with Local Partners to Deliver Meaningful High Street Reform

  • Diagnosing current issues facing high streets via the Expert Panel’s December 2018 High Street Report, which provides recommendations to local authorities and businesses on measures to reinvigorate high streets
  • Implementing the £675 million Future High Street Fund to those councils and business improvement districts (BIDs) with the most promising high street potential
  • Highlighting what local councils and consumers need from their high street through the High Street Task Force, such as additional residences, events, childcare services and leisure activities
  • Showing that extra funding alone isn’t enough given the failure of the 2012 Portas Pilots which provided £1.2 million of funding to 12 towns to raise high street trade, yet these same towns lost 17% of their shops over 5 years
  • Using the Task Force to share data across the country, such as satisfaction scores and economic key performance indicators (including footfall figures) so that towns can learn what works

Councillor Graham Galpin, Member, High Streets Experts Advisory Panel (CONFIRMED)


Special Keynote: Developing Innovative Solutions to Advance Diverse High Streets

  • Outlining the role of the Future High Streets Forum, which comprises of retail leaders and high street regeneration experts sharing best practice and finding innovative solutions to high street challenges
  • Understanding that raising high street footfall requires not only retail and property boosts, but a co-ordinated approach which includes leisure activities, restaurants, pubs and hospitality services
  • Building five separate work streams which drive direction across different areas, including restructuring high streets, digitalisation, building local partnerships, driving research and communicating best practice
  • Constructing partnerships between the public and private sector, through business improvement districts (BIDs), which help to manage and coordinate high street policy and high street action
  • Running the Great British High Street Awards at the Forum, which recognises the work of business improvement districts, local authorities and communities in creating thriving high streets
  • Proposing changes to Use Class Orders and Government funding in 2019

Brigid Simmonds OBE, Member, Future High Streets Forum and, Chief Executive, British Beer and Pubs Association (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Session


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Implementing an Effective Community-Led Approach to High Street Regeneration

  • Promoting local, non-national stores across the high street to reduce store vacancies, drive public engagement, raise footfall and protect the environment for a clean, thriving and full high street
  • Building a Totally Locally campaign, which brings together over 100 businesses to promote local services through initiatives such as the offering of lower market rates than is offered to national chains
  • Driving footfall through community engagement in a Zero Waste Crickhowell, such as plastic free campaigns, community cleaning and the creation of Wales’ first zero waste stores
  • Inspiring 267 residents to prevent a national supermarket taking over a former high street pub through a communications strategy which gained 1,500 letters of objection, leading instead to the creation of three stores and three residential properties
  • Understanding that communities are likely to be more engaged in high streets when stores are local, with 99% of Crickhowell town centre stores are locally run

Awarded UK High Street of the Year at The Great British High Street Awards

Dean Christy, Managing Director, Corn Exchange Crickhowell and Chris Davies MP, Member of Parliament for Brecon and Radnorshire (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Driving University Research to Support Local Authorities and Marketplaces to Regenerate High Streets

  • Running a four year-project, GO TRADE, which is helping to reinvigorate high streets by extending business diversity and the range of services offered across town centres
  • Producing leading university research for local authorities, businesses and marketplaces on the role of markets in revitalising town centres 
  • Putting place-branding at the heart of leading advice to town centre managers, BIDs and those seeking to boost 
  • Leading the academic drive to create research and strategy for high streets to withstand the fast-evolving 21st Century visitor economy 

Dr Andres Coca-Stefaniak, Associate Professor – Department of Business, University of Greenwich (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Developing and Delivering Successful Events and Campaigns to Drive Footfall to the High Street

  • Running numerous events and campaigns through Altrincham’s business improvement district (BID) to increase footfall, dwell time and community engagement across the high street
  • Launching the Explore Altrincham walking tours and annual Summer Festival, attracting up to 40,000 additional people in one day to the high street
  • Launching #Shoptober, which used social media and news outlet Altrincham Today to promote Altrincham’s 140 independent retailers, achieving over 10,000 views on every post
  • Launching the BID’s cost-reduction campaign, which uses procurement specialist’s Meercat Associates to identify retail business savings, identifying over £85,000 of savings for Altrincham stores
  • Introducing an Active in Altrincham campaign, which partners with eight local fitness providers in the town centre to offer free trial offers to drive leisure activities on high streets
  • Initiating the LoyALTY app, which has given 10,000 people working in Altrincham town centre exclusive discount offers and loyalty schemes to shops, bars and leisure centres on the high street

Awarded English High Street of the Year at The Great British High Street Awards

Elizabeth Faulkner, BID Manager, Altrincham Unlimited Business Improvement District (CONFIRMED)


Questions and Answers Sessions


Lunch and Networking


Afternoon Keynote: The Role of Technology in Driving an Effective High Street Growth Model

  • Building an industry movement to support local high street retailers via a Retail Advisory Board, which accelerates the transition towards digital, connected and sustainable high streets
  • Launching the High Street Manifesto, which promotes 8 growth drivers of high streets for councils, BIDs and retailers to follow, including modernisation, education, community empowerment and data building
  • Building a core research group of industry experts and businesses to pilot digital capabilities, such as the digital helper JO which is designed to measure, monitor and drive sales improvement strategies
  • Reversing the logic that technology will end high streets and instead understanding that it can augment human elements of retail service, increase outreach to customers and offer increasing store diversity

Alex Schlagman, Co-Founder, Save the High Street.org (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Leading the Way in Digitising UK High Streets

  • Leading high street digitisation by bringing together Gloucester businesses to drive innovative solutions for raising footfall via £106.63 million of central government funding as part of the Growth Deal
  • Gaining £1 million of funding from Innovate UK for the GL Card, the first app-based card which links online browsing to the high street to connect users with retailers by directing them to offers
  • Providing £400,000 of funding for the first UK Digital Retail Innovation Centre, which is testing disruptive digital technologies to reignite high street retail via digital upskilling, robotics and automation
  • Setting up the What Do You Think? campaign alongside councils to teach over 200 high street retailers about online promotion of their stores, such as through social media training
  • Working with Gloucester City Council and Google’s Niantic Labs to become the first town centre to implement integrated CCTV, Wifi and 4G to raise the efficiency of town centre security
  • Installing 50 footfall capturing devices to analyse the impact of digital activity, with footfall rising by up to 26%

Awarded Best Digital High Street Scheme 2018 at The Association of Town and City Management (ACTM) Awards

Dr Dianne Savory OBE, Chair, GFirst LEP (CONFIRMED)


Interactive Questions and Answers Session

Delegates will be able to submit live questions and discussion points to speakers on the day via the Sli.do mobile application  


Refreshments and Networking


Case Study: Building a Council-University Partnership to Drive Research-backed Digital High Street Solutions

  • Partnering with Loughborough University’s ‘Digital High Street Team’ to gather evidence on digital uptake across Warwickshire towns and inform investment decisions by the council and businesses
  • Funding and delivering digital skills training to over 70 high street businesses in order to support additional digital routes to revenue generation and footfall building
  • Installing free public-access Wi-Fi across six town centres to enable consumers and businesses to stay connected whilst shopping
  • Introducing five GeoSense footfall counters, which track Wi-Fi enabled devices to monitor consumer movements, increasing data analytic capabilities such as differentiating between new and repeat visitors, as well as length of dwell time
  • Placing academic research within the council’s digital strategy to ensure that the strategy is sustainable, with 60% of consumer facing high street businesses now possessing a strong digital presence

Rachel Baconnet, Team Leader – Town Centres, Warwickshire Country Council and Dr Fiona Ellis-Chadwick, Senior Lecturer in Retail Marketing, Loughborough University (CONFIRMED)


Case Study: Bucking the Trend in High Street Decline Through a Thriving Night-Time Economy

  • Driving footfall by extending retail opening times through the Bury Town Centre Evening and Night Time Economy Strategy so that late-opening retail and attractions compose 47% of Bury’s town centre
  • Building family-friendly leisure and entertainment activities, such as the newly built The Rock complex, which provides an easily accessible gym, cinema and 400 new residential units
  • Focusing high street expansion on evening activities, so that the evening economy contributes £40 million to Bury and employs 3,500 people, with 40% of the night-time economy within the town centre itself
  • Creating partnerships between the council, the church and police via Bury Street Pastors (BSPs), trained volunteers working to patrol the streets to deliver a safe night-time economy
  • Using the night-time economy to generate the third highest footfall in the Greater Manchester region despite Bury’s small relative size and becoming the only high street in the region to be awarded Purple Flag status for its entertaining and safe evening economy

Councillor Rishi Shori, Leader, Bury Council (invited)


Questions and Answers Session


Chair's Summary and Close

*Programme subject to change

You May Also Like