Avison Young’s 'Urban Futures' initiative helps reimagine Britain’s high-streets

Avison Young’s 'Urban Futures' initiative helps reimagine Britain’s high-streets 24 Sep 2020

Strategic real estate advisor guides public and private sectors through structural changes to future-proof town and city centres.

The accelerated shift in consumer shopping habits and the resulting questions around the future of the nation’s high streets present a unique opportunity to examine how town and city centres can be improved to provide more inclusive, diverse spaces.

Throughout the pandemic, Avison Young has worked closely with public and private sector clients to respond to immediate structural changes and ensure high streets are able to operate as safely and efficiently as possible.

This work has been shaped into a business-wide ‘Urban Futures’ initiative, which has been specifically designed to support local authorities and wider stakeholders in the short- to long-term. Having launched in early July, the initiative helped clients navigate the initial phase of reopening town centres after lockdown and is now focusing on considerations around reanimating and reimagining the high-street.

When looking at the mid-term changes, Avison Young is working with local authorities to consider the cultural and community aspects of town centres to ‘reanimate’ the high-street. By ensuring empty shop fronts are adapted for alternative uses, such as shared and serviced office spaces, creative studios or makerspaces, towns can support local SMEs and provide a positive contribution to the wider community.

While addressing the structural challenges that town centres face, Avison Young works with stakeholders to develop strategies that embrace and enable more significant changes and create a sustainable urban future. Long-term planning considers the more permanent amenity and infrastructure mix of a high-street, including the delivery of residential, commercial, civic and cultural spaces, which provide living and working environments that bring out the best in people.

Martyn Saunders, Director of Planning, Development and Regeneration at Avison Young said:
“Many retail and commercial properties will need to be repositioned to respond to changing consumer habits around working, living and shopping.

It is important for the public and private sectors to work hand-in-hand to understand the challenges and opportunities for their unique circumstances. For local authorities, there is a huge opportunity to harness development appetite, local grassroots initiatives and institutional capital to drive urban renewal and make town centres more resilient, accessible and engaging in the future.

Putting communities back at the heart of town centres can have a hugely positive social impact, creating a place where people want to be; to work, to live, to experience, to enjoy and to play”.

Avison Young draws on extensive cross-sector expertise in leading complex town centre masterplans, working with clients to create long-term economic, environmental and social value. Current large-scale projects include the Birkenhead Regeneration Framework, masterplans for Luton town centre and Lancaster City Centre, and a recovery strategy for Northampton.

The ‘Urban Futures’ initiative is driven by Avison Young’s Resilient Futures Group, a multidisciplinary in-house taskforce created in response to COVID, which provides strategic advice to clients across all sectors of the built environment to support recovery and future resilience.

You can explore the dedicated ‘Urban Futures’ site here: avisonyoung.co.uk/urbanfutures

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