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Living Streets commissioned research company Just Economics to bring together the evidence of the commercial and consumer benefits of good walking environments.
It reviews the academic literature and examines the relationship between investing in better streets and places and the impact on existing businesses, urban regeneration, and business and consumer perceptions.
To accompany the report, Living Streets has also put out its own summary report, outlining our key recommendations for putting these findings to work.
The pedestrian pound – key findings
- Research shows that making places better for walking can boost footfall and trading by up to 40%
- Good urban design can raise retail rents by up to 20%
- International and UK studies have shown that pedestrians spend more than people arriving by car. Comparisons of spending by transport mode in Canada and New Zealand revealed that pedestrians spent up to six-times more than people arriving by car. In London town centres in 2011, walkers spent £147 more per month than those travelling by car
- Retailers often overate the importance of the car – a study Graz, Austria, subsequently repeated in Bristol found that retailers overestimated the number of customers arriving by car by almost 100%
- Landowners and retailers are willing to pay to improve the streetscape in order to attract tenants and customers.
Summary report – our proposals
Living Streets’ summary report is our response to the Just Economics report. It sets out our recommendations for action to national governments and local authorities to create safer, more attractive and enjoyable high streets.
Our top three recommendations are:
Invest in the public realm to create safer and more attractive high streets
We are asking the government (UK and the devolved administrations) to invest in excess of £500 million in our high streets and town centres. This is less than 0.5% of the net worth of high street retail (valued by the Grimsey Commission at £132 billion). We are also saying that town centres should be managed with a view to delivering health and environmental objectives too – walking is good for all of these things!
Give local communities powers to help high streets and town centres
We are calling on the government to give local authorities and communities control over local planning issues, such as the ‘change of use’ from offices to housing.
Boost footfall by making our high streets as accessible and enjoyable as possible
We are calling on local authorities to audit the quality of the routes to and from their high streets and town centres, to promote events to make high streets as welcoming as possible, and of course to adopt 20 mph limits where people live, work and shop.