Let's fill the empty high streets with hippie 'workshops!' Or not?
Britain’s high streets used to be filled with bright, gleaming shops but thanks to the recession, they’re now more likely to resemble the inside of Shane McGowan’s mouth – gaps everywhere and dirt and grime thanks to months of neglect.
But the government are planning to spruce things up a bit and are setting aside £3m so that empty shops can be replaced with community projects, art galleries and other locally-based schemes.
Changes to procedure over planning permission and other council schemes are also expected to make it easier for small businesses to open up in the deserted shop units. That could lead to a shift away from identikit high streets and an increase in local shops for local people, hopefully with less of a Royston Vasey flavour.
In my own experience, I was at County Durham’s Dalton Park outlet shopping centre with my kids last week and we spent 15 minutes in one of the units which has been turned into an art gallery, with an area for kids to draw their own pictures and stick them on the wall. It was great – every high street should have one.
Is that something you’d like to see in your own local shopping area, or will the empty units slowly be filled up by yet more pound shops? What do you see the post-recession high street looking like in the UK?