Tales of the High Street

High Street sketch
High Street sketch
Project date
  • Publication
  • Research
1851 Royal Commission
Associated team members
Associated documents

On 14th November 2019 David Rudlin was awarded the 2019 "Fellowship in the Built Environment" by the 1851 Royal Commission. The Fellowship was introduced in 1995 to support research into issues facing the built environment, and this time asks the questions "what is the high street for, and what might the future high street be like?". 

The Fellowship will be delivered through URBED+, our innovative partnership with Manchester School of Architecture to deliver research with real world impact. The team comprises David Rudlin Principal at URBED acting as principal researcher and lead author, supported by Dr Lucy Montague Senior Lecturer at Manchester School of Architecture and Vicky Payne Senior Consultant at URBED.

The media is full of stories of woe when it comes to the high street. Online retailing, business rates and changing consumer habits have led to the loss of many household names and the decimation of high streets across the country. We are left with the impression that there is very little we can do. In our winning submission to the 1851 Commission we propose a narrative-based approach to exploring solutions to this crisis. Rather than create another good practice guide or policy handbook we will tell the stories of a hundred high streets. Through these narratives, both positive and negative, our aim is to understand what’s happening on the high street and explore how more optimistic stories might be written in the future. 

This approach will be founded on an extensive literature review and supported by original spatial analysis, economic analysis (using GOAD data) interviews and site surveys. From this we will develop high street studies illustrated with drawings, maps and info graphics.

The fellowship will run for two years, and where possible we will share any interim outputs along the way via the project blog below.

Project blog

06.07.2022, 12:33
Tales of the High Street Project Update

The future of UK high streets remains in the public consciousness as the cost-of-living crisis bites, and we continue to navigate the impacts of the pandemic. The team on Tales of the High Street received an extension to the commission, allowing us to acquire updated data which we hope will capture some of the impacts of the pandemic on our case studies. We're currently working with this data, the website (on which the data will ultimately be displayed) is taking shape and we have our heads down writing a book, which we hope will be available next year. We're looking forward to begin sharing outputs of the project soon!