Theatres Trust welcomes high streets report

The Housing, Communities and Local Government committee has published its report on the future of the high street, High Streets and Town Centres in 2030.

We agree with the committee’s vision that for town centres to thrive in the future, they need to become ‘activity-based community gathering places’. The report acknowledges that ‘investing in the arts and culture and events would create opportunities for interaction’ and we are pleased that theatres are recognised as ‘cultural anchors’.

Theatres are a catalyst for wider regeneration driving much needed footfall to towns. The report mentions the committee’s visits to Darlington and Stockton in particular two places heavily investing in their cultural infrastructure to animate the high street. The recent renovation of the Darlington Hippodrome created a purpose built children’s theatre for Theatre Hullaballoo and the restoration of Stockton’s Globe Theatre will create a live venue at the very heart of its high street.

We welcome the establishment of the High Streets Fund and would hope to see theatre buildings included in some of the schemes benefitting from this funding.

Theatres Trust supports the delivery of additional housing but only on the basis that any permitted development right is appropriately assessed and conditioned so as to not undermine the ‘Agent of Change’ principle. The provision and protection of vital cultural and community spaces alongside residential development is a critical part of what makes a city or town a good place to live.

We agree with the report that there is an under resourced planning function in many local authorities, but the Theatres Trust is available to provide specialist advice to any local authority who wants to invest in their area through theatre.

Jon Morgan, Theatres Trust Director says: ‘Every town centre in the UK has a rich history and unique identity. With the challenges faced by high streets it can be difficult for that sense of place to be captured but a community to its town centre and play a huge part in revitalising an area. We are pleased to see this recognised in this report and we look forward to working with local authorities, theatres and companies across the UK who are interested in investing in culture on the high street’

Read the full report