It is a new truism in urban regeneration that we will have to rely less on vanilla retail for town and city centres, partly because of the trend towards online shopping and also with the trend towards smaller and more frequent on-the-way-home shopping. Even cinemas are losing footfall to Netflix.
And instead we should design High Streets for corporeal *experiences* such as eating, coffee shop chats with mates, haircuts, and galleries. Bookshops are on the cusp of sustaining and declining, and I for one hope they continue because browsing for new books cannot work virtually.
But maybe top of the experiences list, at least financially, is alcohol. So we wish for quiet and sophisticated high-earning consumers who will sit together with a £65 bottle or two of St Émilion before their taxis home, but … we mostly get noisy anti-social groups intimidating streets and public transport with a strain on police, paramedics, and cleansing services.
And a public health legacy which includes heart disease and kidney failure, and researched increases in domestic violence.
So although taxes are collected and High Streets are vibrant, I feel we should think a little harder about *sustainable* urban communities and how we could do better for our town and city centres.