According to a recent report by Deloitte, the future high street will be lined with coffee shops and internet kiosks, with the boundaries between physical and virtual space becoming increasingly blurred. They estimate that 4 out of 10 shops will have to close in the next 5 years as consumers move from stores to online shopping.
For Mary Portas, whose report found the High Street outdated, the future involves relaxing regulations, making town centres more affordable to visit, and reforming the way they are managed. But if retailers must reduce their property portfolios by 30-40%, what does this mean for the viability of the high street, which is a defining feature of most historic towns? If regulations are to be reduced, what can be done to protect and enhance the individual character and distinctiveness of these cherished places? In a time of such rapid change how can the historic environment adapt and survive?