A town centre regeneration strategy gives high streets what they need to emerge victorious over the economic, social and physical decay they’re susceptible to. These strategies aim to engage the local community to breathe life back into town and ensure it’s prepared for posterity.
Retail is an important element of a thriving town centre, but you need to evolve and make strides towards the new future of high streets. When responding to this challenge, what should you consider for your own town centre regeneration strategy?
- What Does Regeneration Mean to You?
- Have You Identified What Your Town Centre Needs?
- Do You Have the Necessary Backing to Achieve It?
What Does Regeneration Mean to You?
Historically, the regeneration of a town centre focused solely on physical places like buildings and outside space. In recent years we’ve seen the adoption of a more integrated approach, involving elements like business development, marketing and promotion.
Regeneration is subjective. It’s an extremely wide and multi-faceted topic. It could be short-term improvements or a long-term vision supported by key objectives. Regeneration strategies are dynamic and tailored to an individual town’s needs.
Whether property-led regeneration or retail-led, each strategy has its own part to play in the restoration of town centres. However different each regeneration strategy may be on the surface, here are some factors and themes identified from each they share:
- Attracting investment and business.
- Enhancing and creating employment.
- Image building.
- Improving the quality of life.
- Physical transformation.
- Property investment performance.
- Infrastructure development.
Shopping habits are dynamic and high streets need to evolve to keep up. To achieve this, towns should aim to build on their strengths and offer a viable and exciting alternative to out-of-town and internet shopping.
High streets and town centres have always been about much more than shopping. Retail is an integral part of the town centre formula, but people also stick around for many other reasons. Whether it’s to visit landmarks, socialise and even work remotely, outdated towns cry out for meaningful development so this can continue.
Whatever regeneration means to you and your town, it’s essential you identify it early on.
Have You Identified What Your Town Centre Needs?
Improving a town centre without first investigating the issues is fruitless. The first task is understanding the experience visitors have when they visit your town which isn’t always easy without data to hand.
You can gauge local opinion with surveys, track popular retail trends and utilise a whole suite of performance indicators. Footfall, conversion, dwell times and customer origins help you better understand exactly what your town centre needs.
If you don’t already have a WiFi network in place that collates this, you should consider the implementation of one in your town centre retail regeneration strategy. It unlocks invaluable customer engagement analytics, helping you make further improvements in your high street with the evidence to back it up.
A regeneration strategy isn’t static and it will be regularly updated by the steering group to reflect the town’s evolving requirements. High streets can provide a setting for shared experiences and be a focal point of local identity, community pride, inclusivity, engagement and innovation.
Whatever your town needs, you’ll need to encourage buy-in and agree on a vision that will benefit everybody involved. A retail-led regeneration works best with the backing of local businesses, budget and community - how will you pull it off?
Do You Have the Necessary Backing to Achieve It?
Local community support can make or break a strategy. After identifying what the town needs, make sure you can communicate the benefits and impact of everything pitched for the strategy. Without these conversations, it might be difficult to get them to invest not just financially, but emotionally too.
It might be that pedestrianising an area will positively impact the economic development of small businesses or introducing a robust WiFi solution increases dwell time in the town centre itself. Detailing these advantages that directly involve the town centre occupants (and sometimes their investment to the strategy) is pivotal.
A number of management approaches have emerged to help town centres shift and grow. The most widely recognised of these are Town Centre Management (TCM) and Business Improvement Districts (BIDs). The latter is a business-led initiative and works to invest money were needed to make improvements to the local business environment. You can learn more about writing a successful BID proposal here.
With a strategy backed by the above, you’ll be able to make strides towards the rejuvenation of your town centre. Regardless of if you want to utilise innovative solutions, attract tourists or simply stay afloat in the unforgiving retail environment, we can provide you with some insight to prosper.
Transform Your Town With Your Retail Regeneration Strategy
Many town centres in the UK have already reaped the benefits of a successful retail regeneration strategy. Using innovative technology to increase insights, custom and footfall, they’ve taken steps to future-proof the high street.
Not sure what’s achievable? We’ve created our ‘Transform Your Town’ guide which details how businesses and shoppers can benefit from some rejuvenation. From towns that are already thriving to how to secure your place on the high street after the COVID-19 dust settles, get access by downloading the guide below.