Recently, the team at IPM met with Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities to discuss progress of the High Streets Task Force, and place management and leadership in the UK more generally.
As well as discussing recent place policy with the Department, the meeting was a good opportunity to reflect on the delivery of the Task Force programme as it enters its third year and looks ahead to a further 18 months of work with local authorities and communities.
So far, the High Streets Task Force has worked with 115 locations. Overall satisfaction with Task Force support is currently high at 86%.
The High Streets Task Force website has had over 200,000 visits since its launch in January 2020, with the resource repository being the most popular area of online support.
Over 4,000 place leaders, managers and stakeholders have subscribed for regular updates and newsletters.
Legacy and future needs
The meeting allowed DLUHC/IPM to reach a number of decisions that would maximise the budget and overall success of the programme, especially the value it adds to local authorities and local high streets.
The meeting was also an opportunity to discuss the evaluation phase of the project (Phase 4) which includes planning a suitable legacy for the HSTF, which, we hope, will include some continuation of the programme.
There is sill a lot to do to overcome the common barriers inhibiting high street transformation the Experts (and IPM members) are finding. In short these are;
To explore these barriers in more detail, on the recommendation of the High Streets Task Force Professional, Research and Data Group (PRDG) DLUHC has opted for this year's annual research study to focus on place leadership in local authorities. This study is near completion and will be available soon.
Role of the private sector
In the midst of obvious uncertainty, with regards to the future political agenda for regeneration, we were advised, again, that the current administration will want to see more of a role for the private sector. There has been a restructuring of the Ministers and civil servants in DLUHC but we are very confident in the current team.
We will continue to promote the need for professionalisation and standards across the sector, the need to increase place management and leadership capacity and capability and the importance of place partnerships that represent local government, businesses and the community.