The High Streets Task Force (HSTF) has begun delivering direct support to 70 local authorities in England, helping communities and local government create and realise a strategic vision for a specific local high street or town centre

Norwich is one of 70 local authorities receiving direct support. Image by Roman Grac from Pixabay

Local authorities in England will begin receiving direct support from High Streets Task Force (HSTF) Experts, as part of a project to help communities, partnerships, and local governments transform their high streets and town centres.

Using regional indicators of deprivation and inequality, alongside research on the impact of COVID-19 on high street retail, the HSTF has identified 70 areas most in need of support. Task Force Experts will consult with local government, business, and community leaders to diagnose issues blocking transformation, and recommend positive changes.

HSTF will deliver local support through a tailored programme for each area. Following a one-day visit, each authority will be able to receive a range of services to help create a local vision and strategy, including expert consultancy, mentoring, visioning and place-making workshops, access to local footfall data, and training programmes for place managers and leaders.

Find the full list of eligible local authorities at highstreetstaskforce.org.uk.

Visits to the 70 local authorities will begin in April 2021, and will continue until mid-2022, when the HSTF will nominate a second list of local authorities.

A benchmark for local regeneration

‘This is not just about support for 70 locations alone,’ said HSTF Executive Director Simon Quin. ‘The High Streets Task Force is a wider commitment to raising the skills and resources of local leaders to transform our towns and cities for many years to come. For every high street we support directly, we hope that many more will benefit from the approaches and learning gained locally.’

The Task Force has been helping local authorities over the past 12 months in pilot locations across England. Since June 2020, the Task Force has provided online support and resources focusing on response and recovery, as well as longer-term regeneration. Over 60% of local authorities and over 3,000 people have already engaged with the Task Force.

About the High Streets Task Force

The Task Force is an alliance of place-making experts that provides guidance and tools to local leaders in town centres and high streets across England.

Through a new Experts Register – the first of its kind in the UK – brings together professionals across a broad range of specialisms to help local authorities evolve their town centres, progress local plans, bid for investment, and respond to the impact of COVID-19. The Landscape Institute is one of four leading national bodies that recruited members to the Register.

‘The Task Force recognises that high streets must evolve from monofunctional shopping centres to multifunctional community hubs,’ said HSTF Research Lead Professor Cathy Parker. ‘This process is driven by inspirational and knowledgeable local place leaders working in partnership across council, business and the community. The Task Force is here to support these managers and leaders.’

Find out more at highstreetstaskforce.org.uk.

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