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29 October 2019 0 Comments
Posted in Opinion, Retail & Leisure

The future of the high street

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For decades the high street has been at the heart of our way of life. But in recent years it has been struggling as shopping habits change. Government recognises the importance of our high streets and that is why it has introduced the £1bn Future High Streets Fund.

Swindon is one of 100 towns and areas in the UK which have been earmarked for much needed funds and is reportedly set to receive £25m. But what will it will mean for the town?

The nature of the high street is changing. Big brands are rethinking their retail footprint, looking at how to extract best value from their retail premises. In many instances that has meant store closures, but these challenges need to be addressed in a multiple of ways.

“There needs to be joined-up thinking from developers, local authorities and businesses,” Kris Talikowski, a board member of Switch On To Swindon told us in a recent video we filmed in the town with retail expert Kate Hardcastle MBE. “And that is getting people to think strategically about what we want from our high streets now and in the future.”

Switched On To Swindon, a campaign to promote Swindon as a great place to work and live, believes the Future High Streets Fund will help improve Swindon’s high street in many ways.

And so too will Zurich’s new HQ at Kimmerfields delivering a major boosting the local economy.

The Future High Streets investment for Swindon will make a massive difference, as the redevelopment of the bus station and the entrance to the high street will give visitors a very different experience than offered today.

There is also a need to get more people into Swindon’s high street by looking at how those people move around the town centre today.

There is a review of the town’s movement strategy currently under way, and if the local authority can ensure there is good signage there is no reason why people cannot move easily from the town’s leisure facilities to the high street. This will be even more important once the proposed snow dome is operational.

Swindon’s high street needs to take full advantage of everything we have to offer during the day, and the night-time economy. The old model of the high street as a retail destination no longer applies.

Successful retail environments need to stay one step ahead of customers. The government’s Future High Streets Fund is one part of the solution, but it will involve retailers, developers and local authorities working together to ensure a lively and beating heart in Swindon.

Our future of the high street film, presented by retail expert Kate Hardcastle MBE, is available on the Royds Withy King YouTube page:

If you have any enquiries, please contact Malcolm Gregory on:

01793 847 719     Email usmalcolm.gregory@roydswithyking.com

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