Reopening high streets and helping local economies build back better

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Reopening high streets and helping local economies build back better

We support a wide range of client projects and have recently been delighted to support the recovery of a range of town and local centres in the London Borough of Croydon.

The commission has involved providing support to both a group of stakeholders, as well as 16 centres of varying size as part of the government and ERDF Reopening High Streets Safely and Welcome Back funding streams.


So how do you provide support to 16 different centres?

As well as project planning and management support, we helped the client to put in place measures to provide bespoke and targeted improvement to each centre. Initially, these consisted of schemes to provide signage and hand sanitisers and later migrated into the introduction of on-site Information Officers and communication campaigns. In each case, we engaged with local representatives to help devise the most appropriate solutions.

So how are you helping now that we move out of the pandemic?

The government and ERDF funding is now focused on the Welcome Back activities to help support a return to high streets and help local economies build back better and so we are currently working on deploying a range of improvements to each centre, which include all of the following.

  1. Graffiti removal and street washing – to ensure that each centre remains as attractive as possible to visitors.
  2. Street Ambassadors – to provide a warm, welcoming and informative service to businesses and consumers.
  3. Developing a clear vision for all 16 centres – to ensure that the borough has a clear direction of travel and that the centres are made more resilient for the future.
  4. Events & entertainment – to provide a range of activities to increase local vibrancy.
  5. Communication and promotion – to reinforce positive messaging about the strengths of each place and so reinstate footfall.
  6. Street dressing – to ensure that each centre feels cared for and is attractive to visitors.

So what have been the challenges and learnings?

The project has thrown up a number of challenges, predominantly linked to the need to try to provide support and services to businesses during a time of fast-moving change. In many recent cases, national policy and guidance has changed by the day and this has meant that we have been required to be very responsive and adaptable to moving circumstances. Whilst we continue to learn a number of lessons, we have found that businesses owners, in general terms, have been incredibly optimistic and resilient to what have been incredibly challenging conditions. Whilst we do not therefore underestimate the challenges ahead, we are confident that Croydon’s centres will recover strongly.


Written by Chris Gregory, Director at Heartflood

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