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Restore our High Streets - Bots

The closure of all 160+ Debenhams Department stores was a major blow for town centres. Thanks for sharing your exciting repurposing ideas. Keep them coming. Here are the ones that have caught our eye:

Automated Warehousing – Perhaps not as glamorous as other ideas, but re-purposing large areas of retail space to provide robotic warehousing makes sense. High street stores have excellent road networks, front and rear access with ready-made loading bays. Equally, these stores still offer massive street facing windows, perfect for product displays and publicity, as well as live product sampling and interactive customer data capture opportunities.

New Homes for All – We’ve heard so much over the years about the lack of affordable housing and new homes. Here is the perfect opportunity to address the housing shortage and revitalise our high streets, along with new local shops that new residents would need. This strategy would also protect our precious green belts, while still giving developers the commercial opportunities they seek. It’s a real win, win! John Lewis has already embarked down this road with some considerable success. Let’s go one further and build enough units to end homelessness once and for all.

All of these have considerable merit, but they take time to roll out and ramp up. That’s the one thing businesses on the high street simply don’t have. Rainbow Rising continues to grab our attention. Their combination of practicality and immediacy is impressive, even if it is only an interim solution. Check out their two massive department store conversions: Debenhams in Wandsworth and Marks & Spencer in Rochdale. Keep those repurposing ideas coming.

Ben Demash


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