Barking Road

High streets

High streets are vital to London:

  • Outside the centre of London, over half of London’s jobs are spread across 600 high streets
  • Two thirds of Londoners live within a five minute walk of a high street
  • Almost half of Londoners do not leave their local area daily
  • Two thirds of London’s developable land is on or near a high street

This page looks at our work:

Supporting high streets

The Mayor’s ambition is for high streets to accommodate a wider mix of uses, including some of London’s new housing. With help, many of London’s high streets can become more exciting centres of life, full of economic and cultural energy.
 

Our priorities include:

  • animating empty shops, disused buildings and underused outdoor spaces - through both temporary and permanent activities
  • creating more welcoming and attractive high streets where people want to spend time - through events, public realm improvements and investment to ensure accessibility for all
  • improving building frontages - through bold new colours, materials, imagery and signage
  • increasing the delivery of new housing and jobs in town centres across London
  • helping high street businesses to make better use of technology, refresh their marketing, and diversify their offer
  • ensuring high streets are places for a diverse range of start-ups and SMEs, with plenty of affordable workspace
  • supporting the formation of new organisations and groups that help London’s high streets and can continue to do so in the long-term

We have published the following research and guidance documents on high streets:

Investing in high street projects

High streets are diverse and flexible places. They adapt and change over time, as centres for retail, but also where people live, socialise, work, access services and watch life as it passes by. Our investment must support all of this and be tailored to unique local contexts.

Since 2011 we have invested over £129m to ensure our high streets improve and thrive through the Outer London Fund, Mayor’s Regeneration Fund and High Street Fund. This investment is now benefiting over 100 high streets in London. We work in partnership with local authorities, residents, traders and organisations such as Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and Traders & Residents Associations. 

Most recently the London Regeneration Fund (LRF) allocated £20m of grant funding to 24 High Streets and Places of Work projects to be delivered by March 2018.

The future of London’s high streets

The traditional high street and its historic social and economic mix are changing. Urban populations today have far more choice about where and how they consume goods and services. London’s high streets face significant economic and technological challenges.

With the right support London’s high streets can nonetheless reinvent themselves as even better places to visit, live and do business. Assistance from City Hall is required to help make them attractive and welcoming places where new types of retail and enterprise space are accommodated successfully alongside new homes and community resources.

We see the future of London’s high streets as:

Mixed

We want to make sure there's a diverse and desirable mix of uses on London’s high streets. We'll do this by tackling empty shops, disused buildings, vacant land and underused spaces. We'll work to promote this mixing and to manage the introduction or increase of housing and jobs in town centres.

We'll focus our efforts on supporting innovative new ways to accommodate the increasing numbers of older people in London’s high streets and town centres. We'll also continue to explore and exploit the evening economy.

Digital

Due to the rise of internet shopping, chain retailers now require a smaller number of larger stores to make healthy profits. As a result many are pulling out of medium and small town centres. Home-working, hot-desking and communication technology are fuelling a similar process in the office sector.

The future success of high streets for all high street users - visitors, residents and business owners alike – depends on digital technologies. The digital revolution has yet to be fully considered as part of high street regeneration. Strategies to revitalise our high streets must now be developed in the context of a digital future.

Inclusive

London’s high streets should be welcoming to Londoners of all ages and backgrounds. They should provide opportunities to all for active participation in economic and community life. We'll support local community groups who are developing and delivering strategies for high street renewal. We'll encourage the establishment of new local partnerships to lead regeneration with defined outcomes and clear timetables for change.

London’s high streets should also provide inspiring opportunities for active urban citizenship to the city’s older and younger populations. We'll look at adapting town centres to the needs of children and older people, and support Londoners in operating community assets, such as local libraries, park buildings, community theatres and crèches.

High streets can help to bring Londoners of all ages together through enterprise and start-up culture, as the places where older people share skills and expertise with young entrepreneurs. We'll promote intergenerational support networks that bring older and younger people together – for example by creating community meeting places for co-working, mentoring, caring and volunteering – in both new and existing developments.