From Wandsworth With Love!

From Wandsworth With Love

The problem with just about every article about the state of our highs streets is that they are all so depressing. Even the more positive long-term economic forecasts are just that – long term. It seems that we’re missing the point. The fact is that we human beings are amazing at adapting to changing circumstances. We claim we all hate change but more often than not, it does us the power of good.

Department stores have been around for over two centuries and seen a lot of changes in that time. The first department store in the UK was probably Harding, Howell & Co, which opened its doors in 1796 on Pall Mall in London and continued until 1820. No doubt at the time, it was seen as revolutionary not evolutionary. This is exactly what we are seeing now in our own high streets, as the e-commerce revolution takes hold.

Department stores, like Debenhams were the key to the successful growth of our town centres for over 200 years. They drew customers and other businesses to them like a magnet and maybe they can work their magic all over again. With their prime locations and their purpose built “plug in and play’ capability, rather than being redundant, these often-grand buildings are arguably perfectly placed to be at the vanguard of our high streets’ regeneration. The questions are what will that look like and how long will it take? Tell us about your repurposing ideas.

Ben Damesh

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