A package of support to help high streets get back on their feet has been launched today (June 12) by the Government as part of a Manchester Metropolitan-led project.

The High Streets Task Force (HSTF) will provide guidance for local councils and organisations involved with retail in our towns and cities.

It will include access to free online training, webinars, data and intelligence on topics including recovery planning and coordination, public spaces and place marketing.

The HSTF – led by the Institute of Place Management (IPM) at Manchester Metropolitan – will now begin a four-year programme focused on the long-term transformation of town and city centres.

The Task Force was launched in July 2019 and will re-focus to combat the impact of the lockdown and ongoing social distancing measures resulting from the Coronavirus.

Professor Cathy Parker, Co-Chair of the IPM at Manchester Metropolitan University, said: “With the impact of Coronavirus on our high streets we know that returning to the ‘old normal’ is not a recipe for long-term success.

“The launch of the High Streets Task Force marks the culmination of 11 months of partnership working and preparation to design support for towns and cities across England and the ways this will be delivered.

“With the support of the government and our partners on the Task Force, we have developed a comprehensive support package to assist our high streets in recovering from the Coronavirus pandemic while taking a longer-term approach to transforming and developing places that are really valued by the local communities they serve.”

The Task Force has also today confirmed Mark Robinson, co-founder of Ellandi and leading investor in regional town centres, has been appointed as the Chair of the Task Force Board.

High Streets Minister Simon Clarke MP said: “The re-opening of our high streets will be a crucial part of kick-starting our economic recovery and restarting town life

“That is why I welcome the appointment of Mark Robinson to head up the High Streets Task Force. I know that Mark will be a strong voice for ensuring that local businesses get the support they need to reopen safely in the coming weeks.

“Combined with our £50 million Reopening High Streets Safely Fund, the work of the Task Force will support our high streets through this challenging time and ensure they have the tools they need to get back on their feet.”

Since the Coronavirus outbreak forced many high street businesses to close, the Task Force has conducted research and consultation with place leaders to develop a Framework for Recovery, which has already been taken forward by some local authorities and partnerships across the country.

Footfall figures show that the number of people visiting the UK’s high streets reduced by 73.3% in May compared to 2019 – an unprecedented low resulting from the national lockdown. The British Retail Consortium also reported a 5.9% drop in total UK sales in the same period.

The new support from the Task Force complements the government’s £50 million “Reopening High Streets Fund” and will help local authorities make best use of that funding over the next six months.

With the impact of Coronavirus on our high streets we know that returning to the ‘old normal’ is not a recipe for long-term success.

Much of the support for high streets will be available online and open to all local authorities, place partnerships and those in the community who want to make change happen.

Online training programmes, webinars, a searchable repository of information on changing high streets, diagnostics and current intelligence and data will be available at no cost.

Since July 2019, the Task Force has designed support and resources for towns and cities in England. The IPM at Manchester Metropolitan and its partners on the Task Force, have formed an alliance of place-making experts and piloted an approach as to how they can be supported.

Over the next four years, the Task Force will work with over 100 towns and cities where need is identified to provide dedicated expert support, mentoring, guidance and access to data and intelligence.


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