A BRAVER approach to regeneration in Tenbury and the Teme Valley is needed.

Councils across South Worcestershire have been urged to be ‘brave’ by a regeneration expert to help the area’s high streets become fit for the future and to help them to fight back in a changing world.

Jackie Sadek, Chief Executive of UK Regeneration, told a Retail Seminar that local government was at the heart of the debate about how to help town centres find their place in the 21st Century.

Representatives from Malvern Hills District, Wychavon and Worcester City Councils gather to explore with a panel of experts how to develop policies that will help high streets deal with changing consumer habits.

Ms Sadek was part of the team that produced the Grimsey Reviews, two landmark reports that promoted a radical new blueprint for high streets.

“The tectonic plates of retail are shifting, and the future of our town centres will not be retail alone but a mix of uses – leisure, health, education and anything else that will help attract footfall. It’s about experiences, because experiences can’t be bought online,” she said.

“We can’t keep doing the same thing and expect different results. We have to be brave in this new world.”

The event also heard from Matthew Hopkinson – another author of the reports and founder of data company Didobi – who stressed there were just too many shops across the UK. He said despite falling demand the sector had added 6.5million square foot of new retail space in the last five years.

He urged councils to look at the role high streets could have in tackling social isolation amongst a rapidly growing older population while also ensuring they were responding to the changing habits of the next generation.

Those attending were also given an insight into the Government’s £675million Future High Streets Fund to help local areas adapt to change. All three South Worcestershire Councils are developing separate expressions of interest in the scheme with the hope they will be invited to submit a formal bid for funding.

“When we consult with residents of all ages, we hear the concerns about their high streets,” said David Chambers, Leader of Malvern Hills District Council.

“They are passionate about them, as are we, and this event will help inform our thinking about how we can further support them to adapt so they remain successful in the future.”

Pictured: Cllr Marc Bayliss, Leader of Worcester City “, Jackie Sadek, Chief Executive of UK Regeneration, Cllr Bradley Thomas, Leader of Wychavon District Council and Cllr David Chambers, Leader of Malvern Hills District Council.