Community involvement in town centres – supporting local people to do more

By Claire Harding | 28 May 2021

The role of our high streets is changing. This was happening before the pandemic, of course, with the growth of out-of-town retail parks and then online shopping: it’s 10 years since the Portas Review worried about the decline of our high streets. In the last year, the shift to buying clothes, food, books and more online has accelerated.

But this doesn’t mean that people feel less attached to their local communities and their shared spaces: local volunteering, both formal and informal, has flourished as people have wanted to do their best for their neighbours. The second half of 2021 could be crucial for our high streets. Many of the rent reductions and holidays available during the pandemic are coming to an end, and government support for retail and hospitality businesses is likely to stop as well, risking a big rise in retail vacancy rates and a downward spiral of high street use.

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