Calls to let Falkirk 'High Street shops die' and replace them with new homes
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According to a new report from the Social Market Foundation (SMF), the decline of traditional high street shopping in Falkirk and throughout the UK is inevitable, meaning people should focus less on slowing that decline and instead concentrate on supporting new and more beneficial uses for town-centre sites.
A major programme of converting retail units for residential use could allow the creation of 800,000 new homes, the SMF report, entitled A New Life for the High Street, states.
The report also says many of those homes should be built by local councils and other public bodies in a major expansion of social housing.
An SMF spokesperon said: “The coronavirus crisis will accelerate pre-existing trends, including a shift away from shopping in urban centres. As more and more workers spend at least some of their working week working at home, footfall in town centres will decline and more retailers will collapse.
“Trying to prop up high street retailers facing long-term decline is not an act of kindness to workers or towns. It just postpones the inevitable and wastes opportunities to develop new policies to help workers and towns embrace the future.
“Nothing can stop the demise of traditional high street shopping so it would be better for politicians to support the next chapter in the story of the high street, with hundreds of thousands of new homes that bring new life to our urban centres.
“A nationwide program of repurposing city and town centres should be introduced. This would see vacant retail space converted into residential property. Replacing commercial space with residential property could, under cautious assumptions, create 800,000 additional homes under our calculations.
“Politicians pledging to save the high street are promising voters the impossible. Instead of claiming they can turn back the clock, leaders should aim to make inevitable change work better for urban centres and populations.”