Solutions to the decline in UK high streets and town centres


The decline of UK high streets and town centres is a complex issue that has been a growing concern in recent years. Notwithstanding the impact of Covid the rise of online shopping, changing consumer habits, and a lack of investment in physical retail spaces have all contributed to the decline. This article will explore potential solutions to this problem, drawing on academic research and real-world examples.


The high street and town centre are an important part of UK society and economy. They provide a sense of community, serve as a hub for local businesses, and generate significant economic activity. However, in recent years, the decline of these areas has become a pressing issue. According to a 2019 report by the Local Data Company, 22% of UK high street shops were vacant, up from 10% in 2010. Additionally, a 2018 report by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors found that footfall in town centres had decreased by 3% over the previous year.

One of the main drivers of this decline is the rise of online shopping. The convenience and cost-effectiveness of online retail has led to a shift in consumer habits, with more and more people choosing to shop online rather than in physical stores. Additionally, a lack of investment in physical retail spaces and a failure to adapt to changing consumer needs has further contributed to the decline of high streets and town centres.

Potential Solutions

Encouraging Online-Offline Integration
One potential solution to the decline of high streets and town centres is to encourage the integration of online and offline retail. By offering a seamless shopping experience that allows customers to purchase online and collect in-store, or browse online and purchase in-store, retailers can better meet the needs of consumers. This approach has been successful for some retailers, such as John Lewis, which has seen a significant increase in online sales after introducing click-and-collect services.

Focusing on Experiences
Another potential solution is to focus on creating a unique and engaging shopping experience that cannot be replicated online. This can be achieved by investing in physical spaces that offer a sense of community and social interaction, such as coffee shops, restaurants, and other leisure activities. Additionally, by offering a wide range of services, such as personal styling, tailoring and repair, and product customization, retailers can differentiate themselves from online competitors.

Redefining the Role of High Streets
A third potential solution is to redefine the role of high streets and town centres. Instead of focusing solely on retail, these areas could be repurposed to serve as community hubs, offering a wide range of services and activities such as housing, healthcare, and educational facilities. This approach is already being implemented in some areas, such as the redevelopment of Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre in London, which will include a mix of residential, retail, and community spaces.

Investing in Public Transport
A fourth solution is to invest in public transport infrastructure to make it easier for people to access high streets and town centres. By improving public transport links, retailers can attract more customers and increase footfall. This can be seen in the example of the redevelopment of Stratford station in London, which has led to a significant increase in footfall and economic activity in the surrounding area.

Encouraging Local Businesses
A final potential solution is to encourage the growth of local businesses. By providing support and resources for small businesses, such as training, mentoring, and access to funding, high streets and town centres can become more vibrant and diverse. This approach has been successful in some areas, such as the town of Totnes in Devon, which has a thriving community of independent retailers and a strong sense of local identity.

Top Down? Bottom Up? – Theory or Community? The Application of Current Urban Theory and the Role Of Stakeholders in Shaping and Implementation of Successful Place Based Interventions


SoMAC Art in the City bannersSolutions to Urban problems are often proposed by urban planning professionals based on whatever urban planning theories hold sway at the time.  Often these proposed solutions are generated “top down” by “experts” using an internationalist template of “best practice” with a cursory reference to the communities living within neighbourhoods.  Is there a better, more effective way?

Today it is taken as given by many authorities that in most western liberal societies and certainly within a UK context, modern urban planning should promote diversity, inclusion, complexity and creativity (Baycan-Levent, 2010) (Jacobs, 1961) (Sasaki, 2010) (Florida, 2003).  This is demonstrated by the focus on the social rather than purely functional and economic uses of place by the feminist planners of Cole.Lectiu Punt 6 in Barcelona (Escalante & Ladivia, 2015) (Cole.Lectiu Punt 6, 2019). Urban theory has in parts shown a progression from urban planning framed to develop a distinctly middle-class restorative utopia and blueprint for an ideal society as demonstrated by Ebeneezar Howard’s 1903 treatise “Garden Cities of To-Morrow”  (Tizot, 2018) which postulated an alternative to the overcrowded and polluted industrial cities of the turn of the twentieth century with his solution centred on creating smaller “garden cities” through the now often disparaged view of cities as “machines to live in”  (Le Corbusier, 1946) and Le Corbusier’s “City of Three Million” model (Corbusier, 1929) and subsequent paradigmatic design for “Ville Radieuse” with its geometrically planned for “towers in a park,” produced with no reference to existing neighbourhoods which for more than a generation would influence planners. Reginald Isaacs however rejected earlier definitions of neighbourhood as given by Dahir (1947) pointing out that in modern times people are mobile and therefore can chose to work, spend their money and engage in leisure activities, anywhere in the city and further afield, emphasising that this wide choice and opportunity is the raison d’être for cities (Adams, et al., 1949)

The perceived riposte to the those propounding these physical structure centred theories were influentially voiced by Jane Jacobs, Louis Wirth and others who focussed on the “intricate network of social interrelation” (Wirth, 1938) (Kasarda & Janowitz, 1974) (Jacobs, 1961). Others including “Situationist” artists and architects who in the 1950’s aimed to portray the city as it was experienced by its real residents, not necessarily as it was ‘top down’  planned by urban planners and architects (Badger, 2012)

The theoretical concepts behind these different approaches to place development and planning in of themselves posit that solutions to urban problems often require external intervention (Tizot, 2018) (Le Corbusier, 1946) (Dahir, 1947).  Although Jacobs seems to indicate that solutions to urban problems can arise from within the community itself – for example  she comments that crime can be prevented by “kibitzers”, shopkeepers and the community as a whole through having eyes on the street and a personal investment in the prevention and reporting of that crime (Jacobs, 1961).  Commentators such as Richard Florida have focused on how creativity can have a paradoxical nature, both subverting and being used for production of the neo-liberal city (Florida, 2003) some examples of this in modern times include the direct actions through the “protestival” (protest+carnival) (Carmo, 2012) and there is much evidence on the effects communities can have on place and image or perception of place (Florida, 2003). It could argued that the natural conclusion of the community centred interventions postulated by Jacobs (1961) and latterly by Florida (2003) is the Gentrification of a neighbourhood. Some sources would say that this is also the expected and possibly welcome outcome of urban regeneration, but caveat the importance to consider and resist the neglect and marginalization of those people being” socially cleansed” or displaced by that gentrification (Lees, 2018) (Hamnett, 2003) .

One of the many examples of where urban theory has been applied to real world urban problems is in Gloucester UK. Since 2006 with the formation of the Gloucester Heritage Regeneration Company, much emphasis was placed by that organisation and Gloucester City Council on top-down physical regeneration of the city as a solution.  At the historic Gloucester Docks, massive investment from Peel Holdings, the Regional Development Agency and others led to the regeneration of derelict docks transforming the area with a designer outlet and for the area relatively expensive apartments.  This model has been looked on with envy by some stakeholders in other geographic areas of the city, including some of the principals of the businesses in lower Eastgate quarter and their representatives on the board of the Gloucester Business Improvement District and the perceived benefits that public realm improvements could make to an area in reducing crime, improving footfall, improving the ambiance, increasing property values, increasing business and residential occupancy and so-on. In common with several commentators the process of ‘gentrification’ which was first coined by the British urbanist Ruth Glass in 1964 is perceived by those promoting it as being largely beneficial (Lees, 2018) (Steinmetz-Wood, et al., 2017) (Hamnett, 2003)

Examining in detail the Lower Eastgate area in Gloucester (United Kingdom) that has been identified as needing intervention by businesses in the area and by residents provides an interesting model to critically evaluate the relevance of urban theory when applied in a real world situation and provides lessons for other urban areas.  The Lower Eastgate area is an area of high deprivation in the Barton and Tredworth Ward of Gloucester, one of the poorest in the United Kingdom with a reported 43% of children in poverty (Gloucestershire Live, 2018) it has a high level of ethnic and cultural diversity with 41.4% of the population from non-white ethnic groups, and nearly one quarter identifying themselves as Muslim, one quarter as Sikh and nearly half identifying themselves as Christian (Brinkhoff, 2018).  Lower Eastgate Street forms part of the historic core of Gloucester City, it has an eclectic mix of different uses and includes cultural and architectural heritage that combine to characterise the street including nightclubs, a theatre, take-away and sit in restaurants and independent businesses alongside residential. Gloucester City Council’s Public Realm Strategy categorises Lower Eastgate Street as a secondary street which surrounds the historic gate streets and lanes and forms the outer layer of public realm within the City Centre, having an important strategic and functional role. There have been hopes expressed by the Gloucester Business Improvement District (Gloucester BID) to create an “Urban Village” (Pollard, 2004) similar to the aspirations for Birmingham’s Jewellery Quarter, which in itself raises some questions about the ultimate benefits to current residents and local business owners which were highlighted by Jane Jacobs and others and as a critical failing leaves unanswered how broader urban regeneration strategies, will affect existing material and social networks, and the potential for “undemocratic, exclusionary geographies being produced through such regeneration schemes” (Pollard, 2004)

An important problem for Lower Eastgate and its environs are perceptions by residents and visitors that crime and anti-social behaviour are at high incidence within the neighbourhood, evidence of crimes reported indicates that initially these perceptions are in some part grounded in fact – during October 2019, 139 crimes were reported in the area with a much lower number of 36 crimes being reported in the the area that reported the second highest number of incidents, however the devil is in the detail as further investigation demonstrates that only 38 of the reported crimes actually took place on Lower Eastgate Street and immediate neighbourhood The remaining crimes related mostly to shoplifting offences that took place in the proximate city centre shopping area (Police UK, 2019) There is also a difference in the class of offences being reported with a higher proportion of antisocial behaviour and violence and sexual offences being reported in the Lower Eastgate immediate area. Conversations with Police officers indicate a direct correlation between this mix of incidents and the concentration of night time and late night economy businesses within Eastgate Street.  As has been commented upon for city districts to be successful it is essential that residents and visitors must   have the perception of assured personal safety and security (Jacobs, 1961) – people can choose to go where they like for goods and services (Isaacs, 1949) and are unlikely to go to areas which are perceived as un-safe or unattractive.  Gloucester City Council and stakeholder groups including the the Gloucester licensed Victuallers Association, Gloucester BID, and The Evening Economy Group, have put much effort into changing perceptions of of the safety and security of the area including working to achieve the Association of Town and City management “Purple Flag” status (Gloucestershire Live, 2018) (ATCM, 2019)
The “Broken Windows” model posited by Wilson and Kelling (1982) proposes there can be a process where neighbourhoods decline into areas of high crime through a developmental sequence of disorderly conditions, wherein “social incivilities”  –  street drinking, antisocial behaviour, and “physical incivilities” for example abandoned buildings and disused  plots, fly-tipping and trash on the streets and so-forth incites fear amongst local residents and visitors. With a growing fear of crime those families that have the means leave the area, and remaining residents develop behaviours where they separate and quarantine themselves from the community.  This leads to a cycle where the lack of control and observation leads to an escalation as anonymity increases, attracting more potential offenders to an area, more antisocial behaviour and increases in serious criminal behaviour. Wilson and Kelling (1982) argued that serious crime developed because the police and citizens did not collaborate to prevent urban decay and social disorder, they used the metaphor that ”a broken window left unrepaired will soon lead to the breaking of all other windows in a building”. Philip Zimbardo’s field experiments with abandoned cars gave some authority to this view indicating that vandalism and more serious crimes can occur anywhere where the jell of civility and mutual regard had been eroded (Zimbardo, 1973). Wilson and Kelling (1982) further contended that serious crime would develop because the police and citizens did not work together to prevent urban decay and social disorder.  Jane Jacobs had a slightly different view arguing that the “public peace” is kept and enforced by the community itself, based on a complex web of voluntary standards and often unwritten rules for behaviour and the police were a secondary influence.  Her discussion of this effect in North End, Boston demonstrated that the resident “kibitzers” (by Jacob’s definition the engaged spectators in a community)  and shopkeepers prevented a high number crimes through their intervention (Jacobs, 1961) this provides a sharp contrast to the examples described by Wilson and Kelling (1982) which were characterized by a lack of topophilia, increasing isolation and anonymity which lead to an increase in crime.

Replicating what is considered to be a successful model developed elsewhere in the city of Gloucester the proposed intervention for Lower Eastgate Street follows current urban theory and practice using a socio-spatial process (Moor, et al., 2006) (Gehl, 1971) (Wilson & Kelling, 1982) and by investing in transforming the public realm and the built environment to develop a pleasanter, more attractive neighbourhood and act as a spur for further regeneration.  Funding for this would in part come from the Gloucester BID, Gloucester City Council and Highways Agency through Gloucestershire County Council. Key to this intervention should be following the clarion cry of Jan Gehl (1971) “Life, Spaces, Buildings – and in that order please” and the principles outlined by Jacobs (1961) and other commentators where the understanding and importance of human behaviour is classed as equally important as the understanding of urban elements including public realm, built environment and transport systems (Gehl & Svarre, 2013).  In line with the theory previously outlined it is proposed that this intervention will help create an area perceived to be safer from crime, safer for pedestrians, create an environment that will build civic pride and encourage inward investment (Collins, 2016).  The example of Kimbrose Triangle and other areas in Gloucester where similar interventions are credited with having the same effects has been seized upon by local business owners as proof that this will work in Lower Eastgate Street, other examples globally also support this (Furlan, et al., 2019 ) (Moor, et al., 2006)

Currently Lower Eastgate Street is dominated by its wide road, carrying two-way traffic and providing bays for a large number of buses and on street parking. There are a number of derelict buildings, and currently no trees or green spaces.

Specific proposed interventions aim to improve the character and quality of the street and encourage pride in place by creating a pedestrian focused and vibrant streetscape that relates primarily to current uses by residents and visitors and has the potential to drive footfall from the city centre and attract inward investment by strengthening pedestrian connections between Lower Eastgate Street and Eastgate Street as well as improving the connections to the primary streets and activity hotspots. It is proposed to reduce the carriageway to four metres, providing wider pedestrian footways to accommodate street trees, furniture and create social spaces and café culture which will promote healthy communities and to achieve high levels of safety and amenity through developing a vibrant community in an environment that is conducive to putting eyes on the street and help to conserve and enhance the historic environment and strengthen the night time economy along the street. Integrating existing parking and bus stops along the street would ensure that the street’s economy and activities are serviced, replicating the current short term parking, drop in/drop off nature of commercial and community activities in the street such as take-away restaurants, nursery, health centre, nail bars and so-on.

On balance notwithstanding some risks, highlighted later, the proposed intervention is one that has much to recommend itself.  The main criticism about the approach outlined above is that the solutions proposed are based on an “expert generated” physical regeneration as a panacea for all urban problems facing areas such as Lower Eastgate Street. Experience has shown the dichotomy between  the livability discourse promulgating a representation for some cities that is in stark contrast to the experience of residents (McArthur & Robin, 2019). While proposals for urban regeneration often talk grandly about the importance of community engagement as shown in the England (UK) regeneration scheme, the 1998–2010 New Deal for Communities programme (Lawless & Pearson, 2012) (Bailey, 2010), they are often light on proposing any social or community initiatives, or engagement by voluntary or public sector to shape the solutions to the issues facing the area such as crime, antisocial behaviour, drugs, prostitution and run down built environment – there often appears to be little effort to genuinely involve the community as a whole from an early stage. The literature recognises that wider stakeholder engagement gives better potential to achieve plan for redevelopment which could garner consensus  and has the potential to mitigate resistance from communities often associated with ‘top down’ urban planning (Newton & Glackin, 2013) (Ball, 2004)

This lack of “ownership” by residents could lead to solutions that are inauthentic to the communities of the area and not fit for purpose for the needs of the community.  The concept of bringing a pocket park has much to recommend itself in general urban theory and practice (Lee & Kim, 2015) however the same empirical evidence indicates that where there is no buy in to development of this type of space and where its establishment is not community led – and potentially “policed” under the “kibitzer” model highlighted by Jacobs (1961) there is a danger of the public space not being adopted by the majority of residents instead becoming a haunt of anti-social behaviour.  A similar pocket park initiative to that proposed was developed in Gloucester’s Conduit street as a “bright idea” from urban planners and within a few years had been closed to use as those engaged in street drinking and antisocial behaviour drove away the families using the space.  Often little commentary is given as to the long term funding for maintenance and policing for such areas and this creates real concern for sustainability (Eichler, 2019) and the potential is evidentially there that areas such as pocket parks can actually reverse urban improvement.

The litmus test for the physical regeneration model highlighted above would be whether it will actually work to reduce crime – or the perception of crime which is almost as important, whether it will genuinely increase footfall and vibrancy in Lower Eastgate, whether the proposed top-down development of a public “pocket park” will actually become a pleasant place for families to use or a haunt for street drinkers and whether the prioritisation of the pedestrian will benefit or be detrimental to local businesses which might rely on cars for their trade, and whether as a whole this intervention will encourage further inward investment.  There is also the ever-present two-edged sword of gentrification with its potential concomitant challenges of exclusionary geographies and influx of spatial capital (Rérat & Lees, 2011). Concerns have been expressed in the local press about the effects of gentrification on rising house prices and rents and the displacement of lower-income families and smaller independent businesses (Gloucestershire Live, 2019). Without the genuine buy-in of the local community there is a potential that authentic locally based initiatives will be lost as regeneration is done “to” the community rather than “by” or with the community and its holistic stakeholder base – the antidote to this is for those involved in urban planning to look at community-centric models such as proposed feminist planners of Cole.Lectiu Punt 6 in Barcelona (Escalante & Ladivia, 2015) (Cole.Lectiu Punt 6, 2019) and repeat as a mantra the directions of Jan Gehl (1971) “Life, Spaces, Buildings – and in that order please”


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Latest tourism stats released today show a massive jump as overnight stays surpass 1 million and 23% more foreign tourists visit Gloucester for overnight visits with many more expected during 2020

Posted on October 11th 2019

It can hardly have passed anyone by who visits Gloucester today, that there have been massive changes in the last ten years. Nowhere have these changes been reflected more than in the massive growth in the number of day visitors and tourists visiting the city from elsewhere in the UK and abroad. The growing success of Gloucester Quays and its events, the beautiful regeneration to the Cathedral quarter, the beautiful historic docks, the refurbished Waterways Museum and this year the restored Llanthony Secunda Priory along with successful events such as the Gloucester Tall Ships and Adventure Festival, Aethelflaed celebrations, SoMAC, Siblings Distillery Art in The City, Gloucester History Festival and the Pro. Insurance Gloucester Goes Retro have all contributed to providing activities and attractions for visitors that has led to a phenomenal growth in visitors to the city.

In 2015 Gloucester overtook Cheltenham in terms of the number of day visitors and total spend of visitors in the city. with nearly £212 million spent by visitors in 2018, a 68% increase on 2010.

Some highlights from the independent South West Research Company shows that in 2018 there were :

  • 3,456,000 day visitors to Gloucester and increase of 8% on 2017
  • 1,004,000 nights stayed in Gloucester Hotels, B&Bs and so-on – a significant increase from 920,000 in 2017
  • A 23% growth from 2017 to 2018 in foreign visitors staying overnight
  • 6% of all employment in the city related to tourism value of tourism


Jason Smith Chief Executive of Marketing Gloucester commented “Gloucester is now very firmly on the tourist map and these figures demonstrate how important it is that as a city we plan for the expected continued growth and the important role that Marketing Gloucester with our partners has had in delivering that growth. It is crucial that we particularly facilitate the development of new hotels, especially in the fully serviced sector as due to the few hotels we have, the strong growth in overnight visitors will be restricted. It is also important going forward that we ensure that we have skilled staff in the hospitality sector and continue to invest in developing bookable products for tour operators”

day visits -county

Paul James leader of Gloucester city Council, said that he was encouraged by the figures commenting “All of the efforts that are going into regeneration of the city by the council, cathedral and private sector partners such as Peel, alongside the high profile promotion for the city which has been led on by Marketing Gloucester are really bearing fruit, bringing money and jobs to the city. Undoubtedly as Kings Quarter and other projects around the city are completed, we are likely to see the number of tourist and spend continue to increase”

Employmentday visits

Recently Marketing Gloucester was successful in bidding for part of a £500,000 fund to bring in US tourists to the city and it is expected that this will see a big upturn in visitors from the USA in 2020.

The above figures highlight how important Marketing Glouecster is to the economic health of the city and some highlights of what has been achieved over the years include:

  • Successes in developing regular sponsorship supporting the events delivered by Marketing Gloucester.
  • Led on the successful development of Gloucester BID and has a high level of support from the 570 businesses which are members and are investing £2.5 million in the city
  • Beat 50 other cities to win prestigious ATCM Best Digital High Street Project in 2018 for the GL Card which received over £370,000 investment to develop in Gloucester
  • Won £400,000 for capex to develop UK:DRIC, the new national digital high street innovation centre
  • Initiated funding bids to Arts Council England and developed the Glouecster Cultural Strategy
  • Led on successful bids totalling £90,000 for external funding to deliver carnival 2018 and 2019 with carnival arts partnership


Since 2016 Marketing Gloucester has consistently raised more income externally than the funding provided by the city council raising over £1.7 million from sponsors, commercial activities and other funding.

The important role that marketing Gloucester has played in helping the city be a cleaner, safer, more vibrant place to live, work, invest, visit and study has been recognised independently in the recent report commissioned by the Council Strategy options for the Gloucester Economy – My Local Economy, January 2017

“With Marketing Gloucester in Place, the City has the organisational capacity that so many other towns and cities lack. It is a real advantage to have the capability for business facing and visitor promotion.”

A report produced for Cheltenham Borough Council states “Marketing Gloucester – demonstrates what can be achieved via a purposeful and single-minded approach to the positioning, product and marketing development of a destination.” Since this report, Cheltenham Borough Council have formed Marketing Cheltenham to try and replicate the success in Gloucester.

The Board and dedicated team at Marketing Gloucester have also worked hard on actions to reduce core costs to the bone and find external funding to ensure services are delivered as requested by the council.

Marketing Gloucester also has a number of other successes, as it has worked towards making Gloucester a better place for businesses, residents and visitors alike including:

  • Events such as the Scrumpty sculpture trail, The Beatrix Potter Trail and Henson Pig trail bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors to the city and funded by Marketing Gloucester through sponsorship without public money
  • The sourcing, set up and relocation of the Gloucester Antiques Centre
  • Over three hundred arts organisations and individuals supported each year through the investment brought in through Marketing Gloucester from external sources above that through local government funding
  • Lead on the successful delivery of the fanzone and cultural events during the Rugby World Cup 2015

Twenty-one new businesses that have opened in Gloucester over the last 12 months

SoMAC Art in the City bannersThere’s always news about shops closing but what about the ones that are opening? Bringing variety and opportunity to Gloucester City Centre, so far, we have seen many new and exciting stores and restaurants join us here in Gloucester and many more are on the horizon including Deichmann, Sundaes Gelato and Barbour!

Five Guys
Fresh and new opening just this month, Five Guys has made its debut at Gloucester Quays. The global fast food chain serves made to order hamburgers and their signature fries cooked in peanut oil. You’ll be spoilt for choice with over 250,000 possible hamburger topping combinations! A full all-American experience.

Clementine Café
This artisan café and gelateria serves coffee, home baked cakes, and variety of gelato sometimes including activated charcoal flavour! Their menu uses fresh, local ingredients while they’re at their very best, bringing delicious seasonal dishes to Westgate Street. The popular café has also opened a branch in Cheltenham.

Hotel Chocolat
The luxury chocolate brand were due to launch their latest store at Gloucester Quays in October, but were ready to open last weekend to the delight of chocoholics everywhere. They use their own sustainably grown cacao, making their chocolate slightly less guilt-free!

Last winter saw the launch of an enormous Adidas outlet in Gloucester Quays. Located in one of the largest units in the shopping complex, the store sells everything from performance wear and trainers through to sport fashion.
Dome Menswear
An independent designer menswear shop has opened on Northgate Street housing brands such as Superdry, Luke and Gant. The boutique store launched in April of 2019 and offers a variety of clothing and accessories, bringing something a bit different to Gloucester City Centre.

Sundaes Gelato
The UK dessert and drinks chain Sundaes Gelato has recently opened a branch in Gloucester on Southgate Street. The restaurant serves sundaes, waffles, milkshakes and much more made from great quality ingredients. Sundaes Gelato also has branches in Birmingham, Sheffield and Oxford to name a few.

Luxury brand, Radley, opened at Gloucester Quays in March. Well known for their handbags and purses with the Scottie dog logo, the stylish London-based company also sell a wide range of accessories including sunglasses, watches and luggage.

Max Gainz Gloucester
A premium sports nutrition store, Max Gainz stocks a range of proteins, amino, drinks and protein bars as well as clothing.

The Winking Owl Fabric Shop
Located on Aldate Street, the Winking Owl supplies a wide variety of fabrics for quilting and dress making as well as patterns. They even run workshops instore, so whether you’re looking to pick up a new skill or get inspired, here’s your opportunity to get crafty!

Blue Inc
The reopening of Blue Inc has brought a wide selection of smart and casual clothing choices back to Eastgate Shopping Centre. The store sells good value men’s clothing and accessories, making it a go to.

Soap Boxx Novelties
Soap Boxx Novelties was new to King’s Square this year. They sell all kinds of soaps, and bathing products and even make bespoke handmade gifts! They also have a range of fragranced products such as scents and spiritual incense.

Wok on Flame
Situated on Westgate Street, Wok on Flame is a noodle bar that serves flavourful dishes form the Far East.

The Med
Formerly Vinings, The Med opened this year bringing a taste of Lebanese, Syrian, Spanish and Greek food to Gloucester Docks. The all Mediterranean dining experience is open 7 days a week for lunch and dinner bookings. Dishes include Tapas, sharing platters, grill and much more!

Brimbles Café
The café on Westgate street is housed in the modified circa 1450 building, originally a merchant’s house. The friendly eatery serves delicious breakfasts and good coffee with the option to enjoy delicacies outdoors!

Dick Whittington’s Gloucester
On July 27th the refurbished Dick Whittington’s reopened as a new venture for Severn Cider. The award-winning cider brand have relaunched the public house that has a large function room and garden with a beautiful view of Gloucester Cathedral to have more of a food-based menu than previously.

Comfy Pew (new owner)
Set in a cosy timbered building just around the corner if the Gloucester Cathedral, this little restaurant has had a new owner this year. Ian and his team have introduced a new menu to the restaurant which is in a charming old English building.

Gods of Ink
A tattoo parlour in Gloucester, located on Market parade expanded this year. The well-established studio has five tattoo artists who have studied ink for many years. Services include custom work, cover ups, laser tattoo removal and they even have a barber!

Vision Centre
Previously located on the corner of Market Parade this optician has now reopened on Northgate Street. The Vision Centre provides a total satisfaction guarantee and first-class service when it comes to eyewear.

Bargain Buys
Poundland on Southgate Street has recently been replaced by Bargain Buys! The nationwide family run business aim to provide the very best value on household brands to make every penny stretch that little further!

One Below
The long vacant unit on Eastgate Street previously housing Poundworld has now been taken over by bargain shop One Below. The discount retail store offers customers discounted household favourites. With prices ranging from 29p to £1 this store provides a great value shopping experience for Gloucester.

Still to come!
With so many exciting businesses on their way to opening in Gloucester it’s such an exciting time to be in the city. Over the next few months look out for these shops and restaurants that are launching soon…

Sundaes Gelato
Hooker and 8
Paffuto Pizza
David Christopher Jewellers


Notes for Editors

A range of images can be downloaded from:

Please credit Marketing Gloucester.

Gloucester BID
Gloucester Business Improvement District is made up of 576 businesses in the city centre of Gloucester who voted in July 2017 to invest approximately £2.5 million back into the city.

Marketing Gloucester
The official Destination Management Organisation for Gloucester, it is a public private partnership promoting the City as a great place to live, work, study, visit and invest; locally, nationally and internationally. It organises award-winning events and festivals, delivering to the city and region hundreds of thousands of visitors and millions of pounds of GVA. It engages with businesses and investors and implements programmes to develop pride of place amongst residents.

‘UK’s first real-time shopping directory launches in Gloucester with support of UK:DRIC’


StreetPin is a new digital platform for the community and retail – two of the hottest topics regarding the future of high streets and town centres. It was launched at the UK:DRIC, the national centre for digital retail innovation in Gloucester, this month.

StreetPin seeks to help independent shops, market stalls and local services without the digital know-how, to make the most of the internet. They focus on the huge gulf between digital sales solutions like pay-per-click, Groupon, keyword bidding etc and traditional sales solutions like printed leaflets, circulars and directory listings. The aim is to help the High Street leverage millions of potential small volume deals, disposal-saving promotions and generally make the most of the ‘here and now’.

Retailers on the StreetPin platform can create their own stand-alone website (Pinboard) within minutes and start trading. Each Pinboard is a blend of community conversations, expert advice and instant deals – everything from recipe recommendations from the butchers, to the pop-up shop discounting goods before they close.

Tim Buick, founder of StreetPin, has been delivering digital solutions for large businesses for 20 years and now seeks to make ‘digital’ accessible to those that ‘don’t do digital’. He has built and tested 5 previous versions of StreetPin and has now pulled all these learnings together into a commercially-ready version 6, and will continue to evolve thanks to retailers’ invaluable feedback.

Tim Buick, founder of StreetPin, said:

“StreetPin champions the pillars of local, instant and simplicity. Where many small businesses may get lost creating a digital ad campaign, the high street sports shop knows that their ideal target audience is the group of 200 runners that meet around the corner every Tuesday and the members of the gym 100m away. StreetPin makes these connections possible, simply and affordably.

“The UK:DRIC has been like an extra member of our team, with introductions, testing, lots of social mentions and invaluable insights. With UK:DRIC’s support, we’ve managed to set up our first real multi-venue trial – in the Eastgate Indoor Market. This is an ideal test-bed for StreetPin as there tends to be a high concentration of entrepreneurial traders, with limited experience of engaging customers that are not in their immediate proximity, especially on a digital/real-time basis. With the trial in full swing, we are receiving lots of great feedback and responsively improving our tools, enabling us to provide a real user-centric product, ready to scale throughout Gloucestershire.”

Emily Knight, Director of UK:DRIC, commented:

“StreetPin is an ideal platform for small businesses looking to make their first step in creating an online presence. StreetPin’s enthusiasm and willingness to learn from both retailers and consumers has created an incredibly accessible interface for businesses to post notices and advertise promotions, removing barriers to digital inclusion. It has also been exciting to introduce StreetPin to businesses working with the UK:DRIC as they can already see the potential in collaboration, further enhancing the digital high street ecosystem we are creating in Gloucester.”
If you’d like more information, or would like them to set up your own demonstration Pinboard (Free until the end of the year), please do contact


What are the benefits for retailers?

  • Get online simply and effectively.
  • Get discovered by those ‘here and now’.
  • Respond to weather, good supplier deals, a drop in footfall… Post offers on your Pinboard in seconds to reflect your ever-changing business environment.
  • Focus on what makes you unique and appealing: the in-store experience and wealth of product knowledge. StreetPin helps you relay this on to the devices of shoppers currently passing you by.
  • Turn customers in to communities – generate a loyal following and a reason for customers to keep coming back.
  • Collaborate with other nearby retailers and services – how about offering 25% off coffee, delivered straight to the captive audience waiting at the hairdresser next door?

What’s in it for the shopper?

  • Promotions don’t need to be the standard 10% off the same products, month in and month out – StreetPin deals are unique and within walking distance.
  • Are you a deal hunter? Follow your favourite shops to receive instant updates for ‘buy one, get one free on Tulips until the end of the day’, or ‘half price Zumba class, tonight only’ – instant deals that you’d never see anywhere else.
  • Looking for something in particular? Pop on to a Pinboard from the comfort of your armchair and ask the shop owner: ‘Do you have any scallops in stock today?’
  • Shopping locally has never been so easy – discover that the market stall you’ve never visited before is selling those headphones you’ve been looking for, and pick them up on the way back from work, instead of waiting for Amazon to deliver them by the end of the week.
  • Produce your own FREE Pinboard wherever you are – these forever-free versions need to be created within 250m of your current location to ensure these are contextually relevant. This could be for your local park where you play football, the local mums’ group, an upcoming event…

The real-time directory

  • This pulls together all the deals and conversations from the shops, services and communities nearby. For the first time, you can access all that the High Street has to offer in one place.
  • You can view all content, or just local deals or just local conversations – whatever you’re in the mood for at any given time.
  • By following this directory (it could be for the High Street, or town, or market), you’ll get all the latest, relevant news and offers, directly in your inbox.


If you’d like more information, or would like them to set up your own demonstration Pinboard (Free until the end of the year), please do contact


The Real Thing to perform at Pro Gloucester Goes Retro next month

Multi-million selling soul band The Real Thing will be airing their much-loved disco inspired hits at Pro Global Gloucester Goes Retro on Saturday 24 August, ahead of their nationwide tour next year. Performing on the SoMAC Stage in King’s Square, the group’s two original vocalists, Chris Amoo and Dave Smith, along with their 5-piece band, The Real Thing will provide the climax to the popular FREE August Bank Holiday festival that celebrates music, fashion and, of course, motor vehicles from a bygone age.


Celebrating the 40th anniversary of their debut hit single ‘You to Me Are Everything’, the Liverpool based trio boast three million selling hit singles including, ‘Can’t Get by Without You’, ‘Whenever You Want My Love’ and ‘Can You Feel the Force’, making them the UK’s best-selling black group of the late 70s.

Commenting on The Real Thing’s success, singer Chris Amoo said, ‘There’s always going to be a sense of nostalgia about our music. It’s the soundtrack to so many people’s lives and that will never die.’

Also performing in King’s Square is vintage entertainment and dancing throughout the whole day, from acts including UK Swing Dance champions Gary and Sarah Boon and their Gloster Swing Dancers, The Revolutionaries performing vintage favourites from a bygone era, Josie and the Outlaw playing Rock and Roll and Rockabilly and cabaret act Cherries on a Cloud.

The Gate Streets and Gloucester Docks will exhibit cars from different cultural eras and will include vehicles by Aston Martin, Jensen, Bentley, Jaguar, Triumph, Morris and Alvis to name just a few. Westgate Street will host the 1900’s – 1949 featuring time-honoured cars from the turn of the last century through to the War Years, and taking in the Roaring Twenties. Rock around the clock on Northgate Street with automobiles from the decade that gave us Rock n’ Roll. On Eastgate Street you will find motors from the heady days of the Swinging Sixties and Southgate Street will be taking us from the Groovy Seventies right up to the present day.

As well as all of this, members from the cast of the classic BBC comedy series ‘Allo ‘Allo will be attending the event and encouraging fans to have a chat or grab a picture, there will be a number of other characters from television and film making their way around the city centre so be sure to keep an eye out.

There will be several awards up for grabs this year, the Best Dressed competitions will be returning and the organisers encourage you to dress up in your best vintage garb with a number of different categories to enter in to and new for this year there are various photography awards for any keen photographers attending this year’s event.

Councillor Steve Morgan, Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure at Gloucester City Council, said: “Gloucester Goes Retro just gets better and better every year with more activities and people taking part making it one of the top events of its kind! So come and share the day with us in Glorious Gloucester – there is something during the day to appeal to everyone in our vibrant and diverse community – something for the young and not so young – big smiles guaranteed and it’s all free!”

Pro Gloucester Goes Retro Stage Times (King’s Square)

10:00 – 11:00     Sounds of the 50’s and 60’s DJ Set

11:00 – 11:30     Gloster Swing Dance

11:30 – 11:45     Cherries On a Cloud Burlesque

11:45 – 12:30      Josie & The Outlaw (Set 1)

12:30 – 12:45      Gloster Swing Dance

12:45 – 13:30      Josie & The Outlaw (Set 2)

13:30 – 13:45      Gloster Swing Dance

13:45 – 14:30      The Revolutionaires (Set 1)

14:30 – 14:45      Cherries on A Cloud Burlesque

14:45 – 15:00      Gloster Swing Dance

15:00 – 16:00      The Revolutionaires (Set 2)

16:00 – 16:15      Fashion Parade Emma Durrant

16:15 – 16:30      Gloster Swing Dance

16:30                     Prize Giving

18:00                     The Real Thing

Gloucester Goes Retro is sponsored by Pro Global and McCarthy & Stone. It is organised by Cllr Colin Organ, Gloucester City Council, Marketing Gloucester and supported by Gloucester BID.

Find out more information contact Ben Hau at

Waldemar Januszczak, Dr Janina Ramirez and Dr Jonathan Foyle Talk Art History at Sibling Distillery Art In The City

Three of the biggest names in art history will be speaking in Gloucester on Saturday 20 July as part of Sibling Distillery Art In The City.


will be speaking on the subjects ‘Still Lives’, the Pre-Raphaelite movement and the story of Henry VII and Elizabeth of York’s lavishly decorated bed respectively.

The special talks are part of this year’s Sibling Distillery Art In The City event. They take place in the beautifully restored St Mary de Crypt Church following the live outdoor painting contest and special exhibitions taking place in Gloucester City Centre throughout the day.

Waldemar Januszczak is Britain’s most distinguished art critic. Formerly the art critic of The Guardian, he now writes for The Sunday Times, and has twice won the Critic of the Year award. Renowned for his feisty opinions, Waldemar is also a film maker of television arts documentaries.

Dr Janina Ramirez is a cultural historian, broadcaster and author based at the University of Oxford with a passion for communicating ideas about the past. Janina is no stranger to Art In The City as she was on the panel of judges for last year’s Plein Air competition.

Dr Jonathan Foyle is an award-winning BBC broadcaster who also writes regularly for the Financial Times Weekend.

3.00pm | Dr Jonathan Foyle: The rediscovery of Henry VII’s marriage bed

4:30pm | Waldemar Januszczak: Still Lives

7:15pm | Dr Janina Ramirez – How homes were perceived in the pre-Raphaelite art movement

Tickets for each talk are £10 or £25 for all three and can be purchased online from or on the door.
For more information, contact

Ministerial Visit & GFirst LEP to Officially Open the UK Digital Retail Innovation Centre. Google and IBM in attendance

The UK Digital Retail Innovation Centre (UK:DRIC) will be officially opened on 30 May 2019 by the Minister for Digital and the Creative Industries Margot James MP,  and the Chair of GFirst Local Enterprise Partnership, Dr Diane Savory OBE. Richard Graham MP will also be in attendance. The launch of the new national centre for the future of the high street, city and town centres will also be attended by tech giants Google and IBM.

Attendees of the launch event will be able see a number of retail innovation projects being showcased in partnership with the UK:DRIC, and will also be able to take part in Google Digital Garage workshops to learn new skills in data, tech and digital marketing.


Margot James MP, Minister DCMS

The UK:DRIC will be working with retailers large and independent to help them develop and apply best practice and upskill.  It has been based in Gloucester as the city provides an exemplar location where solutions have been tested and resolved quickly. The GL Card was one of these solutions and in June 2018, won the hotly-contested ATCM (Association of Town and City Management) award for “Best Digital High Street Project”, beating off 40 other destinations.

As many towns and centres have suffered a decline over the years from the combined effects of out of town retail parks, internet shopping and a change in consumer behaviour, it has become increasingly crucial for retailers and place managers to examine technologies and solutions that will help shape the future of our town and city environments. Understanding the urgency of the situation Gfirst LEP has granted UK Government funding of £400,000 to the place making organisation Marketing Gloucester to launch the UK:DRIC to help develop innovative solutions to the challenges faced by the high street that can be replicated and scaled up across the UK.

Over the past five years the Gloucester has shown that it is proving to be a testbed and pathfinder for future city solutions and the ideal place to locate this national centre.  Its successes in innovation include:

  • Gloucester was one of the first in the world and the first city in the UK to adopt a three-in-one integrated solution with CCTV over IP, free high-speed WIFI across the whole city and 4G being installed simultaneously, winning the city prestigious Gordon McLanaghan Security Innovation Award. The approach has since been adopted by Cardiff, Glasgow, Nottingham, Leicester and Newcastle.
  • Gloucester became the second destination in the world and the first in the UK to partner with Niantic Labs on the Google FieldTrip™ app, which allows virtual, location-based tourism information through smartphones, tablets and wearables. When Niantic was acquired by Nintendo they went on to develop Pokemon Go, the relationship with Marketing Gloucester began to pay real dividends to the city as much of the location data for Pokestops and Gyms was based on existing information uploaded for Fieldtrip™ and Niantic’s app Ingress™. Gloucester has an especially rich environment for Pokemon Go™ players which has attracted players from around the region, encouraging local businesses to purchase lures for outside their premises and boosting the local economy.

Two projects currently being implemented are those being developed by Rewarding Visits, which was granted £1 million from the UK Government, Innovate UK funding, and Maybetech, a solution that is being delivered as part of the DCLG, Great British High Street Project.  Both of these are operating within the digital high street environment with the aim of encouraging purchasing to be made in bricks and mortar business rather than online.

Guy Chatburn of Rewarding Visits, comments “We chose Gloucester as the partner location for the third phase of the role out of our technology, primarily because alongside a great digital infrastructure, the city had a “can do” organisation like Marketing Gloucester that already had the trust of a wide range number of partners throughout the city which  it could rally together relatively easily in order to enable our project to happen.  They were especially good at helping us work with other organisations operating in complimentary areas such as Stagecoach and Trinity Mirror.  There was also a much lower learning curve as Gloucester has a team with a understanding of the tech and the issues facing towns and cities, and that has definitely lead to us having a much stronger offering in a shorter period of time”.

Prof. Richard Cuthbertson of Said Business School, University of Oxford, examining Gloucester’s example as part of a Europe-wide study  “In our research of European cities with a positive focus towards digital technologies, especially those involving small retailers, Gloucester is an excellent example. This city recognises the need for an independent, third party enabler… providing a long-term, single point of contact, developing the relevant digital and physical infrastructure with multiple means of access for customers and retailers, while utilising simple tools, all within a strategy for “place” that encompasses the individual flavour provided by local retailers and services.”






UK:DRIC Launch

Thursday 30 May 2019

The Promenade, First Floor Eastgate Shopping Centre, Gloucester GL1 1AG

11am                  Event starts

11:30am            Talks start in CONFERENCE ROOM:

Diane Savory OBE –  GFirstLEP – Introduction

Jason Smith – Marketing Gloucester – Why Gloucester.
Jayden Halliday – Leading Edge Only (LEO)

Steve Weston – Localy (new project to be launched in Gloucester)

Polly Barnfield OBE – Maybe*
Oliver Banks – Retail Transformation Show
Revealing the Top 5 Retail Challenges – What next?

12.15pm          Guests free to network and view exhibitions

EXHIBITION SPACE: ACP – Wearable Art, OhBOT, UoG Interior Design Screen, ELOTouch, Gamar, IDScan

POD1:    Innovation Lab – Gloucestershire Libraries

POD2: THEIA and Smile Reader

POD3:    HR Department

POD4:    The Growth Hub and Retail Rocks

CO-WORKING SPACE: IBM, LEO, Nettl, ShopAppy, ELOtouch

CONFERENCE SPACE: UoG School of Business and Technology, Smart World Connect, GfirstLEP, Maybe*

2pm-3.30pm   Google Digital Garage

4.30pm            Minister for Digital & the Creative Industries Margot James MP arrives

5.00pm            DEMONSTRATIONS: Gamar, IDScan, Gloucester360, ELO

6.00pm            Event Ends

Gloucester Tall Ships and Adventure Show gives £11.2 million boost to local economy.

After what is being universally hailed as the most exciting Gloucester Tall Ships and Adventure show in its history, businesses across the city have been praising the event for the extra visitors and sales it has brought in to the whole city of Gloucester.

One national brand retailer on Westgate Street reported a 96.6% increase in sales for the same period in the previous year achieving a week’s sales in just two days, making it one of the top ten performing stores in the UK chain.

The hospitality sector has also had a bumper weekend with J D Wetherspoons reporting the best days trade since they were established, even beating records during the Rugby World Cup 2015.

Hotels and bars across the city were filled across the city and with the Gloucester Sea Shanty festival taking place at the same time at fifteen venues across the city, the evening economy has also performed incredibly well with footfall figures showing a 38.1% increase in visitors to lower Eastgate Street indicating that festival goers were staying well into the night to keep the festival vibe going. Kieron Bates, of Rene Group and a Director of Gloucester BID was delighted with the weekends events commenting “Events such as these have a huge positive impact us on our business and others in the city and draw in visitors from all over the country and internationally. The more we can do of this type of event the better”

Marketing Gloucester have produced some preliminary figures which indicate the economic impact of the event on the city, with over 200,000 visitors to the city over the three days of the event it is estimated that 2019’s biggest ever event will have given an £11.2 million boost to the local economy –activity that is equivalent to producing 200 full time jobs for a year.

Gloucester has been been hugely successful in developing itself as a destination for tourists and in 2015 the city overtook Cheltenham to become the most popular in terms of the number of day visitors and total spend of visitors and has been with nearly £205 million spent by visitors in 2017, an 62% increase on 2010.

Some highlights from the independent research which has been commissioned by Marketing Gloucester include:

·       3,203,000 day visits by tourist to Gloucester

·       920,000 nights stayed in Gloucester Hotels, B&Bs and so-on

·       An increase in the proportion of employment related to tourism from 5% of jobs to 7% with over 4,100 people now employed in the sector

Heat map UK

Above is a heat map showing where UK Visitors travelled from to Tall Ships and adventure Show

Jason Smith, Chief Executive of Marketing Gloucester commented on the successes saying “The Tall Ships and Adventure festival, is just one of the many activities partners in the city are undertaking as part of an holistic multistrand branding exercise for the city of Gloucester – alongside the physical regeneration this is helping to reposition “brand Gloucester” transforming its reputation as an exciting visitor destination.  The knock on impact of consistent, quality events, development of visitor attractions such as the Cathedral, museums, docks and Gloucester Quays is that more wealth and jobs are being created in the city and that demand for overnight accommodation is driving a boom in interest from Hotel operators wanting to invest in the city.”

Paul James, leader of Gloucester City council was also very happy with the results and emphasised that they were part of a ten year visitor economy strategy developed by Marketing Gloucester on behalf of and adopted by the city council available at this link >

“Gloucester has really shown itself at its best this bank holiday weekend and with this being ten year anniversary since the opening of Gloucester Quays and the first Tall Ships show it is evident to everyone how far the city has come in that time, it will be very exciting to see how the planned regeneration for Kings Quarter will continue the city’s progress”