the high street in Kendal, a lovely town in the glorious Lake District. Well, actually just outside it, but there you go.

Moves under way to revive the British high street

Could a government scheme give the UK’s high streets a much-needed facelift and bring people back to live in them?

The 2018 Budget included an announcement that a ‘Future High Streets Fund’ would be set up, armed with a fund of £675m. Local authorities were invited to apply for portions of the fund, and the signs are that there has been a substantial response ahead of the closing date of 22 March.

Big names and independents desert high street

There has been a general decline in the British high street for some time, with out-of-town shopping developments taking footfall away. Smaller chains and independent shops have been hot hard, but recent years has seen a swathe of big names also affected – Debenhams, HMV, BHS and many other established brands have struggled.

As a result, the sight of shops lying empty has become sadly familiar. And along with former shops, spaces above them have also been emptied, but one aim of the fund is to help move towards such spaces become residential units.

The 50,000 shops that lie empty were dubbed the ‘biggest untapped resource for new residential development in the UK’ by a recent survey. Converting shops and the spaces above them into homes could help address the housing shortage to some extent.

Minister for the Northern Powerhouse and Local Growth Jake Berry recently told Yahoo that,

“I don’t claim that this fund is going to be the panacea that is going to fix every single high street up and down the country. But from my point of view, it’s a good start.”

Around 1,000 applications to the fund were made in the first three weeks. Local authorities can bid for up to £25m per high street and are expected to match the amount they are allocated.

Berry insists that the emphasis of the high street needs to shift away from just retail. In addition to homes, theatres, gyms, GPs and child care centres are called for.

It’s a move that has brought industry approval. A recent survey by MRI Property stated that 72% of property professionals felt that the fund would give the high street a new lease of life.

Altrincham, just outside Manchester, is held up as an example of a failing high street can be transformed. The Cheshire town, a popular choice for commuting into the nearby city, had 30% of its shops empty in 2010. But after an award of £40,000 kickstarted a change with an emphasis on food and culture, resulting in the town being named as having Britain’s best high street in 2018.

It’s a much-improved place to shop, eat and be entertained in, and could be an example of how to start bringing people back to living in town centres.

Self-certified Sophisticated Investor

Please read

I declare that I am a self-certified sophisticated investor for the purposes of the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. I understand that this means:

I am a self-certified sophisticated investor because at least one of the following applies:

I accept that the investments to which the promotions will relate may expose me to a significant risk of losing all of the money or other property invested. I am aware that it is open to me seek advice from someone who specialises in advising on non-mainstream pooled investments.

High Net Worth Investor

Please read

I make this statement so that I can receive promotional communications which are exempt from the restriction on promotion of non-mainstream pooled investments. The exemption relates to certified high net worth investors and I declare that I qualify as such because at least one of the following applies to me:


Sign up for first access to new developments and exclusive property investment opportunities.

We send limited and targeted emails on new launches and exclusive deals which best fit your areas. We are trusted by over 30,000 active buyers as their source for new stock.

  • New property developments
  • Professional market reports
  • Property deal alerts
  • Development updates
Manchester property investment


Receive trending news straight to your inbox and stay up to date on all of the property market trends and advice.

Established since 2005 we are a leading voice of authority and commentary on the UK property market. Our news is trusted by Apple News & Google News.

  • UK housing market
  • Mortgage & money
  • Buy-to-let landlords
  • Guides & advice

Talk to us

Speak to our UK property experts today:


+44 (0) 333 123 0320

Open from 9am-6pm GMT


+852 6699 9008

Open from 9am-6pm HKT