people walking on street between buildings during daytime
Photo by Charlie Green on Unsplash

Whether its Bradford or Basingstoke, everyone is worried about the future of their high streets. Across the country, boarded up shops and venues are an all too common occurrence – leading to an ever reducing footfall. As town centres decline, people lose important centres of social, retail, leisure and entertainment activity – all vital to cohesive, happy communities.

Without a change of approach, our high streets will continue to decline. This is an unacceptable situation which will damage our social fabric. The Co-operative Party believe community ownership and community-led regeneration can provide solutions to the challenges high streets face. Community ownership enables the creation of new mixed-used civic spaces – which can provide leisure, retail, entertainment and residential offerings. This breaks the mould from the traditionally retail led high street – providing greater variety for local residents, appealing to different age groups and demographics. We have seen initiatives emerge across the country, particularly in Labour & Co-operative led councils, such as Plymouth and Preston. Now we need a new Labour & Co-operative Government to help spread these initiatives to all communities.

At the start of the year, we launched a blueprint for expanding community ownership, authored by Mark Gregory, Visiting Professor at Staffordshire University and former Chief Economist of EY. The report, entitled Unleashing Community Ownership, provides evidence of what is required to reduce the barriers to new community owned projects – including new rights and powers, improved capital raising options and a supportive role for local authorities.

As we go forward into the next General Election we will be raising awareness of the policy solutions – with the goal of creating a new generation of community-owned businesses and assets to help revive our high streets. You can find out more about what we are doing and how local authorities are supporting community ownership at our Member Hub.