Putting communities back at the heart of the high street
The community spirit and cohesiveness of a high street is critical to everything that follows. While economic activity is important, if people do not feel good about themselves or their surroundings and do not enjoy spending time in particular places, these spaces will suffer. Therefore, creating a strong community, supported by the right services and commercial drivers, is essential to the success of a high street.
High streets are often associated with the delivery of a range of public and community services. These spaces have played a key role in ensuring access to important services such as health, education, transport, and culture for residents living around the high street and the wider area, especially for groups such as the elderly, the young and those on lower incomes, who generally find it more difficult to access services by private car. In areas where these services have been removed from the high street the consequences have been hugely damaging to the community cohesion of these areas.
With a growing but ageing population and increasing inequalities facing Britons, access to public services is as critical as ever. However, with such provision being threatened by public sector cuts and the issue of the decline of the high street as a place for public service provision persisting, the very foundations on which to build a vibrant high street for the future are at risk.