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Improving the vitality and viability of the UK High Street by 2020: Identifying priorities and a framework for action

Parker, C and Ntounis, Nikolaos and Millington, S and Quin, S and Castillo-Villar, F (2017) Improving the vitality and viability of the UK High Street by 2020: Identifying priorities and a framework for action. Journal of Place Management and Development, 10 (4). pp. 310-348. ISSN 1753-8335

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Abstract

Purpose The purpose of this paper is to document the results and the impact of the ESRC-funded High Street UK 2020 (HSUK2020), a project designed to take the existing academic knowledge relating to retail and high street change directly to UK High Streets, to improve local decision-making and, ultimately, their vitality and viability. Design/methodology/approach Through a systematic literature review, and by following the tenets of engaged scholarship, the authors identified 201 factors that influence the vitality and viability of town centres. Through the consensus-building Delphi technique, a panel of 20 retail experts identified the top 25 priorities for action. Findings Taking a place management approach led to the development of a more strategic framework for regeneration, which consisted of repositioning, reinventing, rebranding and restructuring strategies (4R’s of regeneration). Collaboration with the project towns resulted in identification of the strategy area that would add the most value, and the impact of the 4R’s and the top 25 priorities is demonstrated via numerous town examples. Originality/value Knowledge exchange projects, such as High Street UK2020, have an important contribution to make, not by developing even more theory that is unlikely to get utilised, instead their contribution is to bring existing theory into practical use.

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