Parliamentary inquiry to focus on the future of UK’s high streets
The UK Parliament’s Housing, Communities and Local Government (HCLG) Committee has launched inquiry looking at the future of the country’s high streets and town centres in 2030.
In a statement issued yesterday (10 May), the Committee said: “The inquiry will examine the future role of the high street in contributing to the local economy and the health, cohesion and cultural life of the local community and the challenges faced amid changing demographic, technological and other trends in recent decades.
“It will also look at how local areas are planning for the future of their high streets and town centres and creating the conditions to sustain them in the years ahead, as well as whether councils have the planning, licensing, tax raising and other tools needed to help local areas flourish.”
Clive Betts MP, Chair of the Committee, commented: “Our high streets and town centres have an important social, civic and cultural place in our society. But, many of our high streets are now struggling, facing a range of challenges including the threat posed by online retailers. Indeed, changing trends and behaviours in recent decades – driven by a range of economic, demographic, social and technological factors – have affected the prosperity and vibrancy of our high streets.
“High streets and town centres retain an important place in our society but what do we want them to look like in 2030 and what actions do we need from local and central government to ensure their longevity?”
Bett’s comment about “the threat posed by online retailers” has featured heavily in the UK media coverage about the inquiry. The Guardian, for example, flagged up that recent high street casualties have included Maplin and Toys R US, while House of Fraser, Mothercare, New Look, Carpetright and others have announced plans to close shops and cut jobs.
However, it is clear that the trend for online shopping is going to increase. So the challenge will be to find innovative solutions where bricks-and-mortar stores and e-commerce resources can complement rather than compete; and the delivery industry can support, not undermine, local retailers and small businesses.
The closing date for written submissions to the inquiry is 22 June. Click here for a link to the Committee website, where you can upload your submission.