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Thinking outside the box - a better use for our High Streets, housing, cafes, bars

(84 Posts)
Peardrop50 Sun 16-Aug-20 21:55:44

With the demise of another High Street giant should we be thinking outside the box.
Now most of us have cars and can shop out of town where parking is easier, often free. Also many of us would rather shop on line especially since covid-19 changed everything.
Now here's an idea, why don't we do up the upper floors of our high streets and make lovely flats for the young free and single and for the over fifties free of kids, and encourage ground floor eateries and bars, galleries, craft shops, individual clothing shops. centres for educational courses, book stores, etc. If the over fifties move in to vibrant town or city flats mixing with the youngsters and living life to the max, that frees up all those three and four bedroom homes in the suburbs for young families to have gardens and space. We're more likely to eat out and will have freed up enough equity to shop in the little outlets.
Whilst writing I see the holes in the idea but between us I'm sure we could come up with a plan.
Thoughts and ideas anyone?

Peardrop50 Sun 16-Aug-20 21:57:49

I know, I know, I forgot the medical centre and some decent transport.

Galaxy Sun 16-Aug-20 22:00:06

I think something imaginative has to be done with town centres, I actually think the concept of shopping as a past time was never a good idea.

Blinko Sun 16-Aug-20 22:01:14

Great idea, Peardrop

lemongrove Sun 16-Aug-20 22:02:40

I think flats and houses in city and town centre are a good idea, the more the merrier.
Small shops may make a comeback after the demise of the dept stores.They are already doing, when you think about it, as that’s what malls contain.
If you live in a city it’s very convenient to not travel far to work or for leisure.

Peardrop50 Sun 16-Aug-20 22:12:04

We'd probably need a gym for pilates, yoga, keep fit.
Definitely a theatre or two for drama, music and comedy.

BlueBelle Sun 16-Aug-20 22:17:48

I think this has long been thought of they have been talking if High streets becoming leisure’s areas with housing, for a few years now
My own town looks as if that’s exactly what will happen with two ‘big village‘ shopping areas at either end outside the town centre and big buildings spreading being ear marked for apartments waiting to see if it happens

MerylStreep Sun 16-Aug-20 22:22:52

I know that here in Southend it is seriously being looked at by the council.

Peardrop50 Sun 16-Aug-20 22:23:40

I like the idea of mixing young people with us olds in a pleasant social situation to create a better understanding between the generations.

Peardrop50 Sun 16-Aug-20 22:27:11

Good to hear that there are already moves towards this idea so come on, lets perfect it, thinking caps on.

MaizieD Sun 16-Aug-20 22:29:21


I like the idea of mixing young people with us olds in a pleasant social situation to create a better understanding between the generations.

I'm not sure if you'd like it when they're shouting and screaming at 2 a.m in the street beneath your flat after a great evening's drinking... wink

I've thought for years that town centres should revert to residential areas

SueDonim Sun 16-Aug-20 22:30:45

In my nearest city they’ve built two centres that pivot at 90 degrees to the old shopping area. People flock to the new malls that are under cover, have modern shops, toilets, inside waiting areas for public transport etc while tumble weed rolls down what was the premier shopping street.

They’ll never tempt people that scurrying along in the wind and rain and wrestling with prams or mobility issues in old fashioned premises is a better proposition. The rates for these so-called premises are sky high, and no one can afford to start a business.

They need to cut their losses and do as the OP suggests - make the area liveable again, something I’ve long thought a sensible solution.

Spangler Sun 16-Aug-20 22:38:26

For those not familiar with London, click on these two links. The first is The Royal Arcade in Mayfair and the second is Leadenhall Market in the financial area.,_London#:~:text=The%20Royal%20Arcade%2C%20in%20the,to%2028%20Old%20Bond%20Street.
A lot of City Centres have the faceless, bland and same old, same old feel. But The Victorians did shopping in style and their shopping centres have stood the test of time. Just see for yourselves.

Peardrop50 Sun 16-Aug-20 22:39:46

Maybe I'd be with them MaizieD. Can always lie in in the morning when they've gone off to work or uni.

Washerwoman Sun 16-Aug-20 22:40:58

DH has been saying the same thing as Peardrop for years now.We need a new lease of life and some innovative and imaginative town planning.

Bixiboo Sun 16-Aug-20 22:45:48

Excellent idea Peardrop. The high street will never be the same so local councils will have to come up with something otherwise they will be even more desolate. There is a housing shortage so why not have houses/apartments in the town centres.

gillybob Sun 16-Aug-20 22:47:48

Here in the North East we have the highest unemployment in the U.K. and sadly soon to get so much higher .

The only people with any money in these parts are the public sector workers with their guaranteed income and pensions . The shops in the “high street” (it’s almost a joke even calling it that) are almost all gone now .

I love your ideas Peardrop and they may just work in the more affluent areas of the country but they are not for the forgotten areas of the U.K.

ginny Sun 16-Aug-20 23:10:02

Good idea in theory and for some.
As far as I’m concerned, living in the middle of a town or city with everyone buzzing around outside would be my idea of hell.

cornergran Sun 16-Aug-20 23:24:21

Our shopping centre has many empty units planned to be let as independent shops, craft and community spaces. Not a bad plan and I can see sense in yours peardrop. A plea to include lifts inside and a balcony plus some green open space outside, flat dwellers need some air from time to time. Car parking is essential too. Also please think twice before converting old high rise office blocks into tiny apartments, no outside space tiny, square rooms, poor sound insulation. There are three such in the town we moved from. Dire.

MellowYellow Sun 16-Aug-20 23:25:29

I live above a shop in the middle of town, with tall trees behind my flat. My neighbours, all living above shops, range from students to retired people like me. It's a lovely, vibrant way to live and it's utilising the otherwise vacant spaces above shop premises. Because we back on to a hill we all have outside spaces at the rear, some have patios or decking, others have gardens. I'm one minute away from buses so I've been able to give up my car, saving valuable money. Previously I lived among my own age group and hated it. I love the variety of ages here.

gillybob Sun 16-Aug-20 23:27:41

Living above a shop (or rather an empty boarded up premises) in my town would be worse than scary . The place is like a ghost town .

Doodledog Sun 16-Aug-20 23:50:02

I hope that something is done with town centres, as otherwise we will all end up as isolated as we have been in lockdown.

If more people continue to work from home as predicted, and if leisure activities continue to be curtailed, town and city centres will become ghost towns. Retail is on the way out, other than for convenience items and perishables - growing numbers of people do most of their shopping online.

I think we need to see what happens with the virus. If we reach a point where it is possible to socialise again, then I think having offices converted to living space is a good idea, and shops can become spaces for leisure- eateries, arts venues, sport centres etc. As long as we have to keep distant from one another though, nobody is going to invest.

I think we need to move away from the idea that anything is built around the expectation that people will use cars though. We need to discourage single use of cars and invest in safe, cheap and clean public transport, and this would be a good opportunity to do so.

paddyanne Mon 17-Aug-20 00:00:04

Its the norm for flats above shops here we had tenements with shops under them where I was born in Glasgow Our town council has moved its offices into the town centre to encourage staff to use local shops,cafes etc in their break.Sadly they also moved a care home OUT of the centre .Where its situated now at the top of a steep hill doesn't encourage the occupants to get out at all .Where they were before they could walk the half mile into town or hop on a busfrom outside their door.Councils sometimes appear to be run by people without sense .

Kamiso Mon 17-Aug-20 00:47:59

Rather like the way that general hospitals have been built on the outskirts of towns making them difficult to access for those without transport.

When the local hospital committee discussed moving the women and children’s services 15 miles away, the committee were surprised to learn that not everybody had their own transport and the bus service was limited and went via a circuitous route through numerous housing estate.

stayanotherday Mon 17-Aug-20 01:51:33

I've thought this for years. It would also give tradesman needed jobs. Another thing needed would be a good library!