High streets should become vibrant community hubs

Speaking at the Locality Convention in Bristol, Communities Secretary James Brokenshire has set out his vision for tackling social problems linked to declining high streets.

There are currently over 27,000 premises lying vacant in England’s town centres. The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government points out that if just a fraction of these vacant premises were turned into homes, thousands more people could have a roof over their head.

Research also shows that higher numbers of residents on our high streets can generate higher footfall and, in turn, higher demand for shops and services.

Launching the government’s flagship Open Doors project, Brokenshire says that the initiative will seek to link landlords with vacant retail units with community groups offering vital services to young and old.

Brokenshire said: “We need to be imaginative in tackling the social and economic challenges our communities face. This includes seizing the enormous opportunity before us to transform our high streets into vibrant community hubs where people work, live and shop. That is why I’m delighted to be launching the new Open Doors project that will see empty shops being opened up to community groups offering services to the most vulnerable in our communities.”

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