High Streets for All

We Made That, LSE Cities

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report


This study takes one of the most commonplace and everyday experiences of the city – the high street – and explores its social value from the perspective of Londoners. Social value is most commonly understood to be made up of economic, social and environmental aspects. Together with existing knowledge and new primary research, the study uses this evidence to set out the strategic case for advocacy, intervention and investment in London’s high streets.

Why high streets?
As well as being one of London’s most characteristic urban features, high streets are the city’s most common public asset: everybody has one. High streets are the places most Londoners can walk to or get the bus from, they provide common access points into London’s cycle routes, bus and overground systems, and they are at once global and local – offering both everyday experience and opportunities for exchange from across the world.

London’s high streets serve a wide range of Londoners in multiple and inclusive ways. They are highly social, diverse and accessible spaces, and have a crucial role in supporting social economic and environmental benefits across London’s neighbourhoods.

Investing in London’s high streets is an effective way to benefit all Londoners, and policy to support this investment will therefore be essential to delivering Good Growth for London.

London’s changing high streets
London’s high streets reflect wider processes of urban change. This research confirms that high streets are facing changes and a range of challenges, which can threaten the value they offer to Londoners. These include:
• Increased rates and complex regulations
• Housing pressures on commercial spaces
• Affordability pressures linked to rising property values
• Increased online retail as a share of total retail spending
• National-level policy changes and cuts to public services
• A lack of formal planning designation for high streets

Tackling these issues will be key to ensuring that London’s streets thrive, and maximise their social value.

Overall approach
High streets are complex places. Getting an accurate picture therefore requires a mix of research methods that will uncover both their value and the challenges they face. This study draws on:
• Primary research through face-to-face surveys and interviews with over 200 businesses, high street visitors and other stakeholders;
• Observational analysis of high streets;
• Secondary research using GLA data, analysis and GIS data-sets;
• Literature review;
• Precedent analysis.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationLondon
PublisherGreater London Authority
Number of pages64
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright: Greater London Authority 2017


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