Grimsey Review COVID-19 Supplement Report: Build Back Better

Building on the Grimsey 1 and Grimsey 2 reviews, the ‘Build Back Better’ Covid-19 report, produced by Bill Grimsey and team, provides a comprehensive exploration of how town centres and high streets can transform in order to thrive post-Covid19. 

Maybe* was a contributor one of the insightful best-practice examples that focused on how technology can help transform towns. The report stresses the importance of local communities and leadership, community hubs, attractive and accessible public realm, and multi-functionality.

Local community and leadership

During the COVID-19 crisis, we have seen people relying more than ever on their local centres. In building back better, the report, therefore, highlights the importance of shifting power away from central government to local communities, to enable a wider range of stakeholders to shape the future of their high streets and town centres, as well as developing and rewarding a ‘new breed of collaborative leaders’. As the authors suggest, we need to see “a massive shift in power away from central government to local communities and a renewed focus on localism. Local people must be empowered to redesign their own high streets and have a say on the businesses, services and amenities that occupy it...” (p.3).

Experience and community hubs

The report suggests COVID-19 has accelerated a cultural shift around what people want to see from their high streets and town centres, which was underway before the pandemic, such as the desire for experiences over ‘stuff’, and concerns over societal issues like sustainability. As the report observes, the pandemic has, therefore “paved the way for a post-retail landscape to emerge” (p.4), whereby “we’ve spent an enormous amount of energy over the last decade trying to work out how to keep an outdated model on life-support. It’s time we expended that same energy and commitment on looking to the future” (p. 21). To build back better in the future, the authors subsequently urge us to see our high streets and town centres as being about more than just retail; instead of offering ‘community hubs’ which provide “health, education, culture, housing, leisure, art and crafts, along with some shops” (p.4).

Design places for people, not cars

For centres to thrive post-Covid19, the report brings attention to the importance of accessible green space for local communities. We’ve also seen people in towns and cities across the world undertake tactical urbanism interventions to make more room for cyclists and pedestrians by taking space away from cars. Building on these actions, the report further encourages the designing of places for people and not cars, to ensure there is a more attractive and accessible public realm. As the authors argue, “our towns and cities must no longer be designed solely around the car as people learn to appreciate the benefit of open spaces” (p.11). The ‘20-minute neighbourhood’ concept (p.8), where people should be able to access to the services they need in a short walk, should help in rethinking our centres in this way.

The above information has been repurposed from an excellent summary by the High Street Task Force.

Grimsey Supplement Report Excerpt

Also see: Building on the Grimsey 1 and Grimsey 2 reviews, the ‘Build Back Better’ Covid-19.

Maybe* is a collaborative social media management platform that provides engagement tools, actionable insights, reports and access to training that enables organisations to make social media work for them.

Join us every Wednesday for our "What's working best" social media insights webinars