How to improve the health of your high street

Five things you can do for your High Street

By Cathy Parker & Simon Quin, Institute of Place Management

Can you improve the health of your High Street? Newly published research suggests there are initiatives that can be effective but they require partnership and collaboration.  Town and City Centre - Institute of Place Management

Although some did better than others, many retailers posted disappointing figures for High Street sales over the Christmas period. There are many reasons for this, not least the growth in online retailing, but research by the Institute of Place Management shows that decline has been a long time in the making. The fundamental reason high streets are struggling is that decision make


rs and stakeholders are not adapting effectively because they don’t act collectively.

Stories about the high street are always featured each month in Place Magazine
Read more from IPM and BID Foundation in Place Magazine

The High Street UK 2020 research findings identified 201 things that can improve the vitality and viability of traditional retail areas. Not all are relevant everywhere and not all can be locally implemented. The 201 factors were assessed by leading experts as part of the research project and the five most important have been identified.

Top of the list of priorities is ensuring the trading and activity hours of the location meet the needs of the catchment. Many shops and services are stuck in a 9-5 trading pattern that does not reflect the time that many people want to use the centre, especially in places that have a high number of commuters living nearby.


The second area is improving the visual appearance. This can involve large projects like street improvements, better lighting and so on – but it also covers basic cleanliness. Unfortunately, too often, commercial waste and consumer litter or the poor maintenance of property act as a blight, undermining investment in the physical realm, and just putting people off.

The third priority is ensuring the mix of retailers and other services is providing the right offer. A bit like the first priority, a thorough understanding of who is and who is not using the town and why is key here. As individual landlords are free to let their properties to whoever

they please, managing the overall offer of a location is challenging. Much provision is complementary – a town may sustain a butcher, greengrocers, fishmonger and deli for example, but if any of these shut down, then it has consequences for the other shops as it is the linked trip behavior of the consumers that is keeping them all in business.

Having a shared vision and strategy for the location was the fourth priority we identified. This is the mechanism by which stakeholders can be encouraged to develop their business in line with an overall plan to improve the high street. A vision, strategy or plan is important for attracting investment from both the public and private sectors. Many town centres just do not seem to have a purpose now they are no longer the centres of retail they once were.

And in fifth place came the quality of the experience. Again, this relates to the collective offer of the location. A number of positive customer service interactions in retailers and service outlets can be wiped out immediately by a surly bus driver or a dark and foreboding multi-storey car park.

The actions that will improve footfall on the UK high streets have now been identified by our research, and you can access them with a more detailed explanation. They are available free of charge at Revive & Thrive supports the work of BID Foundation in our high streets Nevertheless, we do not underestimate the challenge ahead for individual locations wanting to change their prognosis. As collaboration is key to success then new governance and place management models are needed and this is one of the reasons the Institute is delighted to be working with BIDs from across the country through the new industry body


New industry body renews High Street optimism

Revive & Thrive is pleased to support BID Foundation

The BID Foundation launch is welcome news for the Business Improvement District industry

Revive & Thrive is very pleased to share the following announcement about the launch of the BID Foundation.

All involved in place management will know that national representation for Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) has been in a state of flux for at least two years now.  Revive & Thrive is pleased that the BID Foundation will be addressing this.Success of BID Foundation is crucial for the Business Improvement District industry

Revive & Thrive and Place Magazine stands in a unique position in being open to BIDs and all towns or cities, irrespective of size, and all organisations representing place.  Its membership and subscriptions complements and does not conflict or compete with the aims of the BID Foundation.

All at Revive & Thrive and Place Magazine fully support the BID Foundation and offer full support in making this new organisation, built on strong foundations, a great success.

Revive & Thrive and Place Magazine offers its resources and networks to help in anyway to ensure BID Foundation success.

BID Foundation Press Release 17th January 2017

The BID Foundation has launched today (Wednesday 17th January) to meet challenges facing commercial districts up and down the country. Against a back-drop of ever-more difficult trading conditions and local government cuts, the new industry-led body will help Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) manage town and city centre retail, leisure, and other commercial areas more effectively.

The new membership organisation is an alliance of leading BIDs and the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University, which has been appointed as its independent operator. The BID Foundation was set up in response to wide-scale consultation and is led by an elected council of 14 BID Chief Executives from across the country.

Commenting on the launch, Andrew Cooper, Chair of The BID Foundation and CEO of Leeds BID, said: “BIDs will now be able to work together more successfully to encourage change and investment in our town and city centres. We want BIDs to make an even more significant contribution locally and nationally and we need to engage more meaningfully with local and national governments and the wider business community to do that.”

The new industry body will provide strategic direction and practical support to BIDs. It will champion the revitalisation of the high street and commercial areas by raising standards, sharing knowledge and resources, and building a trusted and representative voice.

The BID concept started 15 years ago in the UK, with the operational priorities of making areas cleaner, safer and more attractive.  This remit has matured, meaning BIDs are increasingly working with local partners to influence the economic development of the areas they manage and address big issues such as rough sleeping. Now there are nearly 300 UK BIDs and around 25 new ones are being elected each year.  Annually, BIDs contribute a total £110 million investment to UK towns and cities. 

Stefan Gurney, Vice Chair of The BID Foundation and Executive Director of Norwich BID, said: “It is great to be at the forefront of setting the vision and strategy for the future direction of the BIDs industry. The BID Foundation has been developed by the BID community and we aim to represent the industry with a clear, collaborative voice.”

The Institute of Place Management will provide specialist support and Revive & Thrive wishes the BID Foundation the best of luckaccreditation to members of The BID Foundation to ensure consistent high standards of operation, accountability, and transparency. BIDs will also draw on innovation and research insights from the Institute to inform their future business plans.

According to recent research from the Institute, the fundamental reason many commercial areas are struggling, is that decision makers and stakeholders do not adapt effectively to ongoing changes because they do not act collectively. BIDs provide this essential collaborative approach because they are business-led partnerships where retailers and other services pay an additional levy to fund a collective business plan aimed at improving a specific area.

Chair of the Institute of Place Management, Professor Cathy Parker, said: “We know how important BIDs are and The BID Foundation offers a way to increase both the local impact of each BID involved and further develop the model as a trusted form of urban management.”

The BID Foundation is open to membership from any operating BID. More details are available at


The BID Foundation

The BID Foundation is the new industry-led body for Business Improvement Districts created in response to wide-scale consultation. The BID Foundation is an alliance of leading BIDs and the Institute of Place Management at Manchester Metropolitan University. The BID Foundation has been created to elevate standards, lobby and provide practical support to those within the Business Improvement District industry.

A council of BID senior practitioners govern The BID Foundation.  Nominations for council election were held in 2017 and 14 BID CEOs have been elected to serve by their peers.


Contact: Andrew Cooper (Chair of The BID Foundation and CEO of Leeds BID)


Winchcombe jumps 753 places in it’s digital influence

Read about Winchcombe in December's Place Magazine

Winchcombe has seen an enormous rise of 753 places in the Digital Influence Index this year since working with #WDYT.

Winchcombe features in this month's Place MagazineThey have risen 37 places this month and 11 places this week overtaking towns such as Redruth (583) and Droitwich (566) which are much larger towns to a position of 561 out of 1300 towns and cities nationwide.  

Highlights in Winchcombe this month include:

The #WDYT Workshop to help retailers with their social media took place on the 13th November at the White Hart. #WDYT were delighted to welcome along Emporium Gifts and Experience Winchcombe as well as representatives from the museum.

Cotswold BoneDandelion Blue and Banbury Home have been tweeting out some great Christmas ideas, alongside Maybe collections that showcase items in their stores which generated 95 votes and 52 comments, all helping to build their digital brand awareness and footfall to Winchcombe.

#WDYT welcome Winchcombe Flowers to the campaign who have started posting with

On December 6th the #WDYT team took a walkabout on the Winchcombe high street to chat to retailers and address any social media queries. The team explained how joining the campaign will boost the town’s footfall.

More stories like this one from Winchcombe can be found in Place Magazine each month

Stafford’s Digital Ranking remains impressive for a ninth week

Stafford features in Revive & Thrive's Place Magazine

Stafford has maintained its digital influence ranking (23rd out of 1,314 towns) for an impressive ninth week in a row.

Stafford's digital influence is featured in Place MagazineRanking higher than all surrounding towns, such as Cannock, Stoke-on-Trent, Wolverhampton, Walsall and Lichfield, Stafford is a major player in the Digital Influence Index. An overall move up of 97 places this year has meant a deserved Top 25 ranking for the town.

The town’s annual Christmas Tree Festival has resulted in 96 local businesses decorating trees that are displayed in St Mary’s Church – a great way to showcase themselves this festive season.

Highlights of the #WDYT campaign in Stafford this fortnight include:

  • The Wardrobe has just run a #WDYT competition to win a Juicy Couture bracelet worth £80
  • Chapters, the new independent bookshop, ran a #WDYT competition to win the Philip Pullman ‘The Book of Dust’ book, bag and poster, which resulted in a 169% increase in Instagram followers
  • Stafford Churches shared posts about organising the annual Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary’s Church
  • Dean Sharpe’s Floral Studio shared how they were placed 1st in the Chelsea Flower Show heats. Congratulations!
  • The Moat Househeld its Wedding Showcase offering a free Top Table for weddings booked in Jan/Feb/March 2019. Other Lewis Partnership venues of The Swan, The Bear Grill, The Dog & Doublet, The Red Lion andThe Bank House have been posting pictures of their delicious seasonal specialsChoose Revive & Thrive for your Business Improvement District Feasibility services
  • Lots of Black Friday deals were shared by various retailers using #WDYT
  • Dourish & Day shared their excitement about the first snow of the season in Stafford
  • Kennys Sports Bar continues to let residents and visitors know about all the major sporting events they are showing on their big screens each day
  • FunkyWunkyDooDahsis thinking ahead to the New Year by offering curtains and blinds at 2017 prices

Shop, eat and enjoy Stafford this festive season – and don’t forget to tell us #WDYT?

More stories like this one from Stafford can be found in Place Magazine each month

Northwich BID makes winter investments into town

Read all about Northwich in Place Magazine

Following investments into the image of Northwich town centre over the last two years, the Northwich Business Improvement District (BID) has once again funded initiatives to catch the eye of shoppers and visitors.

Not only have they invested into winter planters, hanging and railing baskets but they have Northwich BID can be found each month in Place Magazinealso facilitated the return of solar powered Christmas trees which are adorning lighting columns throughout the town and at the Hanging Basket stand on Leicester Street which is a key gateway to Northwich.

The trees, which are adding some sparkle to the streets in the run up to Christmas, were switched on at the Extravaganza on Saturday 25th November alongside the town’s Christmas lights and motifs which the BID have also part funded.

These investments by the BID, in particular the provision of winter plants, are all part of the organisation’s objective to deliver a greener and cleaner Northwich which can be enjoyed by shoppers and retailers alike and is the latest in a long line of projects delivered to this effect.

This Christmas in Northwich article can be found in Revive & Thrive's Place MagazineIn the last two years alone they’ve been responsible for the re-development of Pocket Park, helped refresh the subway turret next to the Memorial Court, overseen the installation of a walled garden vinyl on Witton Street  and also committed extra funds into the weekly cleansing of Northwich Town Centre.

On top of this, the BID carries out monthly audits throughout the year regarding the image and cleansing of the town too.

Northwich BID Officer Mark Henshaw is hopeful that visitors to the town centre will enjoy the floral and festive additions over the coming weeks.

“Since the BID began funding additional planting in the town centre we’ve had so many positive comments about how they add colour and vibrancy, and although the winter planting won’t come to fruition until the spring, they do improve the look and feel of the town.

“We also had great feedback from businesses about the solar Christmas trees last year so we’ve brought them back again. The switch-on was great and it means that people can now fully experience the trees and their shimmering glow.”

More stories like this one from Leeds BID can be found in Place Magazine each month