High Streets & Town Centres

Why it’s not as simple as telling people to ‘get back to the office’.

Along with most people, (especially after last weeks’ press on getting back to work) I’m finding the government’s messaging on encouraging people to return to the office very confusing. At a basic level, I don’t believe it’s the role of the government to be involved in this decision, it’s down to individual organisations and the employees, given that work is no longer constrained to taking place in one location, especially an office. Heading into Liverpool Street in London last week I took a wander around to see if it was any busier than a few weeks ago. Given I was on a 08:20 am train, which is normally packed, I counted 12 people in two carriages so no need to [...]

Retail webinar takeaways

During the lockdown, we’ve been attending a number of webinars which has definitely been positive, as it’s easier to fit them into the day or catch-up later as opposed to taking time out for an event but the two (live and online) are not quite same. The more recent ones have focused on how to start up the high street after Covid-19, and what the future of retail may look like after this global pandemic. Architects, Farrells ran a series of webinars discussing the impact of Covid-19 on the built environment, its design and the people living in it. One of these looked at reclaiming high streets post-COVID-19 and it’s interesting looking back to see that even though the discussion [...]

Preparing a town centre vision for Barking in 2030.

In 2019, Arup was commissioned to convene ‘The Future of Barking Town Centre Panel’, which was created to develop a vision for the future of the town centre in 2030. Whilst Barking is functioning well as a town centre, it is not fulfilling its potential. It currently does not fully meet the needs of existing residents, or indeed those who will be moving into the area in the coming years, The panel's role over several months, was to review a range of inputs, to understand the context of the existing town centre offer and to ensure that the vision being developed was linked to inclusive growth and the borough's wider objectives. The summary report outlined how the town centre can [...]

Learnings from High Street business engagement.

We wrote this post last month and in light of Covid-19 and most UK high streets being closed, we were ready to abandon it. However, as the lockdown continues, it became clearer that we’re unlikely to revert back to how things were/the old normal, which provided us with an opportunity to think about how we might adapt projects, or what we can do now to help us prepare for future engagement and in turn to ensure businesses are ready for reopening, whenever that may be. ------ Over the past 12 months, we’ve been managing several stakeholder engagement projects. Whilst talking to business owners, BID members, workers, market traders and high street users in very different places, we’ve uncovered interesting [...]

Community at its best at Ruddington Village Market

Last month we visited Ruddington, a large village five miles from Nottingham with a host of indie shops, local history museums and a country park. In 2019, the village launched its own street market and we went along to celebrate the market’s first birthday. We met with some of the organisers and spoke to market traders and shop owners to find out more about how the market started and what benefits it has brought to the village. It was a great visit and really reminded me of the heady days of starting out when I was one of the founders of Chatsworth Road market, in Hackney back in 2010. A year in and the Ruddington team are running a slick [...]

Looking back and predictions for the future from BDO’s annual retail trading seminar

This week I attended BDO’s annual retail trading seminar for the first time. Presented by retail partner, Sophie Michael and Richard Lim of Retail Economics, the seminar took an in-depth look at the sector, trends over the past 10 years, Christmas trading and predictions for the next decade. I’ve included a round-up of the key points below, adding in other research and comments on the sector from my own experience. The content presented, was broadly aligned with learnings from last weeks’ session at The Institute of Place Management (IPM) (as part of the MSc Place Leadership programme), that addressed how technology and changing consumer behaviour are the biggest factors impacting the sector. How we shop, interact with retailers (on and [...]

2020-02-28T12:04:22+00:00January 30th, 2020|High Streets & Town Centres, Retail|

The Assembly Line annual round up

2019 has been a busy year at the Assembly Line. We have worked on a number of interesting and diverse projects and we are now planning ahead for 2020. We have capacity for new projects from March onwards. If you would like to collaborate on a high street project involving business engagement, retail, local economies, street markets or place marketing, please feel free to email us on hello@theassemblyline.co Here’s a recap of what we have been working on in 2019. Developing a market strategy via public consultation This year we worked with Westminster City Council to manage a public consultation on their six street markets. Over 18 months we were part of the wider team ensuring communications, licensing, legal and [...]

The changing face of high streets presentation with The Assembly Line at Hawkins Brown.

Hawkins Brown, an international practice of architects, interior designers, urban designers and researchers invited The Assembly Line in last month to talk about ‘The role of markets and the changing high street’. The objective of the talk was for their team to learn more about the changing high street and the role street markets can play, which may impact the practices’ placemaking projects in and around town centres. The presentation and Q&A, provided a whistle-stop tour of changes impacting the high street as the retail sector undergoes huge change, the history of markets looking at them in all their guises and how the combination of high streets and markets can work together to create stronger places, that stand out, build [...]

2020-02-28T12:07:37+00:00December 3rd, 2019|High Streets & Town Centres, Markets, Retail|

A Place Management tour of the North West.

I’ve been spending a lot of time in the northwest this year. I know the region well having grown up there and worked in Manchester early in my career. Now based in London, I have been used to returning for quick weekends to see family or for events but often haven’t had the time to stay much longer. Since starting The Institute of Place Management’s MSc Place Management & Leadership Programme in January this year at Manchester Metropolitan University, I now build in time around the residential sessions to get out and about with my place management hat on and take a fresh look at new and familiar places. On a recent trip, we managed to fit in quite a [...]