Let's fill the empty high streets with hippie 'workshops!' Or not?

14 August 2009

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?


  • Jase
    There's a shopping village near me (Junction 32) and I honestly don't know how any of the units make any money. Its on a decent entertainment strip (Xscape...snowslope, Cineworld, restaurants, bars) but its literally filled with brands you don't initially think to buy from. It has a Starbucks, GAME, Wedgwood, Nike, M&S Clearance and Next Clearance...the rest is all generic crap. The problem is its reputation. People and big businesses know the quality of the shops are in decline...so no-one is going and big chains (Topshop / Topman and H&M) aren't taking an interest. Every outlet needs a few decent flagship stores to make going worthwhile, and this (in my opinion) has none. How can you expect a small business to break-even when all the research of the big guns aren't seeing it as a viable place for a store?
  • andy y.
    Maybe some new High St formats are in order eg "Hookers","Meth unlimited", "Shoplifters" and to be balanced "Shirtlifters"
  • Martha F.
    Great idea, give the dole scum something to do during the day while I FUCKIN' PAY FOR IT!!! £3M from an already in debt government ??? FOR FUCKS SAKE !!!!!!!!!!
  • Darren W.
    It is crazy, our local town centre now has only 4 retail units open the remaining 20+ are all empty and shut down... they say they will support new start up businesses within the area but you cant get any of the empty retail units due to a development project starting in 2 years time?? so what would be the harm in me taking one for a couple of years, letting me test the water etc... I do support this idea, but its a different market out there.
  • The B.
    Wow, £3 million, they've really pushed the boat out there, cor, I reckon the economy's going to go into overdrive with a boost that huge. Whilst we're comparing Shopping Centres, I had the misfortune of being in Hatfield the other weekend and the Galleria is well.... how do I put it politely? Shite?
  • Carl
    I say well done for finding something of interest in Dalton Park ;) What do you see the post-recession high street looking like in the UK? I don't think we'll have high streets for much longer, just more supermarkets selling everything under one roof.

What do you think?

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