Planning and governance issues in the restructuring of the high street

Deborah Peel*, Cathy Parker

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)


Purpose: This paper aims to examine the role of “restructuring” in confronting the challenges facing contemporary high streets in the devolved UK. It complements three articles concerned with repositioning, reinventing and rebranding and illustrates the multi-faceted approaches involved in addressing retail change and town centre transformations. This paper emphasises the role of planning and governance in effecting change. Design/methodology/approach: Informed by a literature review, action research involved inter-related interventions in selected locations, and associated workshops with engaged practitioners and community actors. Findings: The findings highlight that the “resilience” of contemporary town centres demands resisting efforts to return to the status quo and necessitate forms of adaptive management. Understanding high street degeneration and the limitations of a retail-only led policy focus as a “wicked issue” further demands socially constructing town centres as an ecosystem requiring a holistic response. New forms of joint-working involve selecting appropriate models, attending to relational aspects and defined roles and responsibilities. Land use planning, including masterplanning and creating evidenced policy options, provides an important democratic space for legitimising action, offering leadership and extending participation to new change agents. Practical implications: Restructuring of governance is an essential prerequisite in effecting change. Originality/value: The originality of this study lies in the application of the restructuring element of the 4 Rs Framework which enables a focus on the governance dimensions of town centre and high street regeneration. The findings are enhanced through the experiential evidence which stresses both the importance of place-based diversification and value of prioritising holistic and joint actions developed through participatory visioning exercises.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)404-418
JournalJournal of Place Management and Development
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2017


  • Governance
  • Holistic
  • Joint working
  • Resilience
  • Restructuring
  • Wicked issue

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