Architects call for urban design experts to be appointed for high streets

15/12/2021

RSUA has responded to the Executive Office’s Call for Evidence in relation to it’s High Street Task Force – and appointing a group of experts to help reimagine high street spaces is top of the agenda.

Specifically, the RSUA is calling for:

  • a single expert multidisciplinary group be formed, led by a specialist in architecture and urban design – to inform the deliberations of the High Street Task Force through public presentations and the publication of guidelines on relevant aspects of urbanism, the built environment and real estate
  • legislation to help evoke a healthy mix of uses of buildings in the high street that could protect against challenges from investors or developers who may wish to change the use or features of buildings in pursuance of the market
  • a policy or framework to promote and push for activity at all floors and that the building’s main function is not restricted to the ground floor of a given premises
  • the right funding mix for the future in order to move away from a a fully market-led approach
  • the use of 3D masterplans for urban areas to ensure that buildings can be inserted into streetscapes to create places of quality and varied characteristics
  • the impact of ‘out of town’ development on the high street to be taken into consideration as part of planning decisions
  • Improvements to the public realm with more open spaces which are people-focussed and not dictated by traffic routes and prioritisation
  • the introduction of a targeted fiscal package in line with local vision to deliver real change. Particular innovative financial mechanisms will be required to bring dormant buildings back into use that may be listed or located in conservation areas.
  • lower fares lower fares on public transport alongside investment in the park and ride infrastructure outside cities and large towns
  • The integration of greenways into urban areas and the proliferation of cycle lanes as well as secure bicycle storage should be considered
  • an urban design expert group should be employed to help review how high streets can be made more ‘interesting’ with a mix of units, amenities and open spaces in order to encourage tourism.

Read the full RSUA response below: