Clone Town Britain – small shop campaign

April 10, 2008

For some time now the Evening Standard, one of London’s daily evening newspapers, has been campaigning to save London’s small independent shops. This is in light of the increasing domination of high street by supermarkets and chain shops, a research agenda set by the New Economics Foundation (NEF) and their “Clone Town Britain” report.

At the end of March, the Evening Standard carried an article noting the campaign had achieved one success, with ministers promising to curtail the spread of out-of town shopping centres, through the development of high street “impact tests”.

The interaction and relationship between the shopping centres and the high street may prove an interesting line of investigation. For example, Borehamwood (North London) is a thriving centre despite its proximity to the large indoor shopping complex of Brent Cross. The decline of the local suburban high-street has been muted in various planning documents and academic papers, particularly as they face the onset of many challenging issues, such as becoming congested with cars and their declining economies together with the competition from online retail ventures. The advent of the “impact testing” seems like a positive policy, particularly since it will place emphasis on diversity. This seems to complement one of the project hypotheses mentioned before in the project blog, the contribution that diversity of land uses and mixed uses can make to economic and social sustainability of the suburban centres.


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