Decline of the British high street | Letters

Guardian readers respond to a report on the British high street claiming 100,000 shops may stand empty within a decade

Zoe Wood reports on an independent review of the retail crisis by Bill Grimsey (100,000 shops may stand empty within a decade, report warns, 4 July). The report urges planning in town centres to include alternatives to retail, including housing and entertainment. Grimsey urges the creation of community hubs to replace empty shops, which would appear to be a positive step forward. Indeed, planners and entrepreneurs could be missing a trick here – empty shops mean new opportunities for business, but why limit our horizons to merely replacing retail jobs with entertainment? Most towns are saturated with cinemas and restaurants, although young people would benefit from more sports facilities, eg skate parks.

Surely we need an alternative vision for community regeneration, one that gives opportunities to social enterprises such as day centres for elderly people. The large empty retail premises could be easily converted into spacious centres perhaps based on the Japanese model of centres for wellbeing and purposeful activity.

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