Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

Organisers of the Future High Street Summit in Nottingham are committed to reversing the on-going decline of the high street. A two-day conference on 25th and 26th March aims to prepare delegates with proven solutions and best practices to turn around failing town centre.

BRC/Springboard monitors footfall and shop vacancies and gathers data on customer activity in town and city centre locations, and in out of town shopping locations, throughout the UK using the latest generation automated technology.

Recent reports from BRC-Springboard say there’s a continuing drop in footfall on high streets and in shopping centres, as well as a rise in vacancy rates.

However, the event’s organisers say that high street stakeholders can definitely change these consumer trends by working together. Organisers maintain that it has clear message: “the high street is not dying or dead, but it is evolving,” said Clare Rayner, founder of the event.

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“It’s important that the people behind our town and city centres evolve with the times as well. We want to open our attendees’ eyes to the options available to them for their own future high streets.

“Today’s consumers are looking for something a little different when they visit town centres. Our jam-packed, two-day event on 25th and 26th March is going to showcase the proven solutions that bring people back to the high street, and delegates are going to see how working with other organisations is the perfect way to implement those solutions.”

Mark Holder, from the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), will explain how town centres can work in partnership with tiers of local government, and show existing examples of best practice.

Other speakers will include Jean Ball MIPM, Town Team Special Advisor at ATCM, and Rachel Baconnet, Regeneration Project Manager, Town Centres, at Warwickshire County Council.

Rachel will talk on the importance of county authorities as key drivers for economic growth, whilst Jean will explain why collaboration and partnership need to be mandatory.

Jean Ball commented,

“The towns and cities that are enjoying positive momentum are those where people, passion and power are working in partnership. In the 21st century, the truth is that no single entity can deliver thriving high streets – not local government, business improvement districts, town teams, chambers or town centre partnerships – but together we can make places that are alive, vibrant, inclusive and resilient.

“Town centres are complex places and it takes collaborative effort by a wide and varied range of stakeholders, each doing their bit and working to shared objectives, to craft real change with lasting impact. Delegates can hear about the highs and low from the Portas Town Team Programme over the past two years and how they can contribute to helping making towns great.”

Rachel Martin and Maria McEwen, community organisers responsible for establishing and running “Pop Up Penzance”, will share with delegates how their venture has progressed since its launch in July 2013. They will show how having brought seven empty shops back into use, this enabled businesses to test new concepts and facilitated other community events and initiatives. Rachel and Maria will share their recipe for grass-roots revitalisation.

Rachel commented,

“While we are waiting for the longer term solutions such as rate reviews, change of use permissions and the rethinking of town centres, we in Penzance are turning the dismal empty shops into an opportunity for theatre, art events, ping pong, neighbourhood planning, and a testing ground for new businesses and community projects, and all on a very passionate shoestring.”

A study in July 2014 by EE and the Centre for Economic and Business Research found that the pop-up retail industry was growing at a rate of 8.4% pa. This compares to the 3.4% growth of the retail sector as a whole. It’s clear that pop-up stores are growing in popularity with both retailers and shoppers.

Guy Lincoln, Senior Academic at the School of Events, Tourism, Hospitality and Languages at Leeds Beckett University, and co-founder of street food provider, Beasty Boys, will be speaking at the event as will Andrew Critchett, owner of food business Fish& and curator of independent food business network, Northern StrEats. Their insights should illustrate how promoting street food can support micro-businesses, boost footfall and increase dwell time.

Guy Lincoln commented,

“Street food is the fastest growing and most exciting sector of the UK’s food and drink industry. Thousands of new customers experience it each week and creative and entrepreneurial traders are continually entering the market. It has achieved this level of success and growth despite – or perhaps because of – its defiantly uncorporate status; remaining small scale, mobile, outdoor and highly creative.

“The traders and their often high-concept vehicles offer a diversity of regional tastes, ethnic backgrounds, popsmarts, foodie curiosity and social media savvy, unmatched in any other sector. It is this unique combination of individuals and perspectives that challenges assumptions about urban life and business and food consumption to offer opportunities to invigorate city streets in a unique and positive way.”

Joe Barratt, who founded The Teenage Market, in partnership with his brother Tom, will also be sharing his experiences. Just launched on a nationally, The Teenage Market is offering a free platform for young people to showcase their creative talents in several towns throughout the UK: Stockport, Salisbury, Kettering, Middleton and Croydon, among others.

Joe Barrett explained,

“The recent rise of digital marketplaces has presented a real threat to traditional markets, as the next generation of young people become more used to engaging online than they do with the real world. What we’re doing with The Teenage Market is fairly revolutionary as we’re using the power of digital technology to connect young people to their local market and town centre.”

Ian Ferguson MBA, Director of Partnerships for Better Business Ltd will also be speaking at the event.

The Future High Street will be held at Nottingham Conference Centre within Nottingham Trent University on 25th and 26th March.

For more information visit the Future High Street Summit websites and register here: www.futurehighstreet.co.uk/register

About Future High Street:

Since its launch last year the Future High Street Summit has become a platform that enables innovators to share their capabilities, achievements and success with an audience of like-minded people who believe in a positive future for their local high streets, towns and village centres.

Delegates leave the summit fired up with inspiration and well equipped to bring new ideas and innovation back to their own communities, adapt them where relevant, and take them forward for the benefit of their area.

Please Note: This Article is 5 years old. This increases the likelihood that some or all of it's content is now outdated.

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