Levelling up: High Streets Task Force announces 68 local authorities to receive expert support


Each selected local authority will be invited to put forward a high street or centre which can benefit from help to address local challenges and to develop strategies for positive change. The Task Force, which was appointed by government in 2019, will provide these locations with expert consultancy and training, working directly with local government and facilitating engagement with communities and civic societies.

The support, which will start in each selected location from Summer this year, begins with a visit from High Streets Task Force experts who will consult and collaborate with the local authority, businesses, and community groups, with the aim of unlocking the potential of each place.

Support for locations

In order to target high streets with the greatest need for support, regional indicators of deprivation and inequality have been analysed to produce the list of 68 local authorities noted below. This analysis also takes into account the effect of COVID-19 on high streets.

This new help for places continues the work of the Task Force, which has already directly supported 84 local authorities across England and provided further online resources that are available to all towns and cities responding to the impact of COVID-19.

Mark Robinson, High Streets Task Force Chair, said:

“Over the last 2 years, the Task Force has witnessed the resilience of high streets and the diversity of their communities. We’ve engaged over 4,000 placemakers so far and I’m delighted we’ll be supporting a further 68 local authorities to consider their own ambitious plans for recovery and long-term growth.”

“We know from our work that high streets thrive when businesses, councils and community champions work together. The Task Force aims to provide that impetus to partnerships and to help them learn quickly from other local success stories.”

Further 68 local authorities to receive support:

Local authority
AllerdaleDudleyKing’s Lynn and West NorfolkSlough
BasildonEalingKirkleesSomerset West and Taunton
BassetlawEast StaffordshireLancasterSouthend-on-Sea
BedfordEast SuffolkMedwaySouthwark
BolsoverEastbourneNewark and SherwoodStevenage
BrecklandFolkestone and HytheNorth DevonTamworth
Brighton and HoveGloucesterNorth LincolnshireTelford and Wrekin
BuryGosportNorth NorfolkThurrock
CamdenGraveshamNorth TynesideTorridge
Cannock ChaseGreenwichNorthumberlandWaltham Forest
CarlisleHammersmith and FulhamNuneaton and BedworthWarrington
ChesterfieldHarlowReadingWest Lindsey

Task Force approach to transformation

Support available to local authorities starts with a diagnostic visit to identify the needs of each selected location and to prescribe follow up products and services relating to relevant expertise and strategies, for example place branding, visioning, governance or spatial design.

Follow up products and services consist of up to 4 days of expert consultancy time, mentoring where there is a need to build local relationships, and specific workshops to support the development of place making activity or a local vision. Locations can also access footfall data and online training courses on the use of place data and sentiment.

The High Streets Task Force, which is led by the Institute of Place Management based at Manchester Metropolitan University, has appointed 150 independent experts from the professional bodies Design Council, Landscape Institute, Institute of Place Management and the Royal Town Planning Institute. Appointed experts work with places, bringing their insight into town centres and how to build capacity for change.

Matt Colledge, Director of the High Streets Task Force, said:

“Our approach to support is designed in recognition that every place is unique. Whether it’s local heritage, a town’s infrastructure and built environment, the broader needs of its community, or its unique culture, services and attractions. We start by meeting with local stakeholders to get a deeper understanding of their place, so we can offer advice that really helps.”

“Of course, places haven’t been waiting for the Task Force before getting started. They’re already well underway delivering investment and high street transformation, and – whether it’s through our data provision, training programmes or expert advice – we want to help ensure their work provides the greatest local impact.”

Visits to each of these newly selected areas will continue until mid-2024.

Cheshire West and Chester Council were part of the High Street Task Force Pilot programme, working with the Task Force in Ellesmere Port. Councillor Richard Beacham, Cabinet Member for Inclusive Growth, Economy & Regeneration said:

“We began working with the High Streets Task Force in Ellesmere Port, as part of its pilot programme in 2020. With their advice and support we began work to establish a framework to develop the vision for Ellesmere Port, based on the principles of partnership and working closely with the community to deliver on our collective ambitions for the area.”

“Ellesmere Port is a proud industrial town on the River Mersey and like many places has faced challenges with empty units and encouraging people to the town centre. Building on our work with the Task Force, we’ve recently supported a new programme of events, centred around our local market, and there is great positivity in the community about our future vision.“

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