WHAT IF no8: OUR EMPTY SHOPS LOOKED LIKE THIS

Empty shops are a blight on any high street (although sales of window polish go up).

W.I.S. Thinks that owners of empty shops should be forced to ensure that they are presented in an acceptable way. It’s a great opportunity to have art displayed, local history, or as in the case of this ad, history AND an advertisement. Everyone seems to hate those triangular boards stuck above shops saying ‘shop to let’.

The old curtain shop currently looks like this:

SAD, DEPRESSING, BORING, UNLOVED

SAD, DEPRESSING, BORING, UNLOVED

So how can we take something that is a blight on the high street and turn it into something positive?

What if it looked like this:

POSITIVE, PRETTIER, UNIQUE TO THE AREA

POSITIVE, PRETTIER, UNIQUE TO THE AREA



There is an interesting article which was in the news today about the state of our high streets.

The full text of which can be found here:

http://www.brc.org.uk/details04.asp?id=1599

The main points were:

twelve per cent of town centre shops are now vacant, three times more than last autumn – but it also demonstrates that many of our high streets have been struggling for years.

Town centres need good design, making the most of heritage features or natural surroundings to create a unique sense of place. Then they must be very well maintained.

High streets need central Government backing. There must be no new property and business rate burdens and a responsible and inclusive approach from local authorities to the money they raise and spend.

Stephen Robertson British Retail Consortium Director General said: “High streets are the heart of local communities and economies – providing jobs and essential services. They are a crucial part of our national retail mix but many of them are in trouble, facing difficulties that began well before the current recession.

“Some will flourish again as the economy recovers; others have to shape a different future as customers’ needs change. But that cannot be left to chance. These processes have to be actively managed by local authorities with their retailers, other businesses and residents.”

W.I.S.

More feedback on this what if can be seen here:

http://forum.sydenham.org.uk/viewtopic.php?t=3718&sid=a00776ffc7e6f0173e155e302bd5f2ea

IF YOU LIKE THIS, PLEASE TELL PEOPLE ABOUT IT!

Designed by Good People
www.designedbygoodpeople.com

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3 Responses to “WHAT IF no8: OUR EMPTY SHOPS LOOKED LIKE THIS”


  1. 1 Andrew Brown July 22, 2009 at 10:56 am

    I agree that more could be done to make empty shops and sites that are boarded up for development look much better than they often do.

    The council have tried to do something with what is the site for the new swimming pool in the centre of Lewisham but I’m not convinced they put a great deal of time or effort into something that I and thousands of others go past on a daily basis.

    When housing on Besson Street was being put up the housing association (or possibly the NDC for New Cross) commissioned a local artist to do a piece of community art which was put on the boards that covered the development.

    But however we dress it up the sad fact is that this recession is hitting high streets, and the question must be what sort of recovery we might want and expect.

  2. 2 Alex August 31, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    The government will never succeed – nor it should try and waste municipal money on that in the first place – to convince/force business or property owners to make their properties and vacant lots “pretty” for the sake of making the rest of the street pretty.

    One should instead appeal to their businessmen nature – you make your property attractive and it’ll sell. You make the street attractive, it will make your property MORE attractive and it’ll sell. Easy. You come up with “rules” and “regulations” instead and people will always try to weasel out of it and cut corners. You’ve got to change the thinking approach instead.

    • 3 Designed By Good People August 31, 2011 at 4:03 pm

      Alex, that is exactly what we have been doing. We totally agree that you have to change the thinking. It’s why we started this blog, to raise shop front design as an issue. But it isn’t down to just that.

      When I said that high streets need government help, I believe incentives like initial rate or rent free periods to help kick start a business and encourage growth. Many of these rates and rents are crippling for high street businesses and they get raised without any sense of how local changes actually affect their businesses. The best way to make this happen is for both businesses and local authorities to work together. It may be incentives as already mentioned, it may be a mix of both. Councils are responsible for looking after the high street, the most visible part of the high street are it’s shops so it’s in both the councils and local businesses nature to make the shopping district more attractive. Unfortunately many local businesses don’t pay a lot of attention to how their shops look. It’s an expense. Yet they often think nothing of spending hugh sums of money on installing roller shutters and ripping out original shop fronts and installing expensive plastic back lit signage. Working together is the way forward to establish the case for making our high streets more attractive and inspiring rather than just imposing rules to tell people what they CAN’T DO.

      There is also much that Estate Agents can do, which is something that we ar working on.

      So besides all that, do you think it’s a positive thing for high streets to make empty shops more attractive?


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