Live from project Future of the High Street. Data and co-design: time for some jargon-busting!

Film by Future of the High Street film-maker Megan Miller

Data.

  1. Data to understand the background context of these two high streets as a place. We are collecting information through facade, land use and character studies to better understand the current mix of businesses, hours of activity and qualities of the built environment. The project team have also synthesised previous consultation reports that used the Place Standard or other local insights into the challenges, opportunities and perceptions of these high streets more broadly as places. This is important — reducing consultation fatigue by listening to and valuing the input of local people who already generously shared their time previously. It also means that instead of repeating questions, we can then use current participants’ time more productively to fill in any gaps, and focus on the upcoming pilots specific to this project.
  2. Data to inform the design, development and selection of high street ‘tweaks’ or pilots that will deliver most positive impact by addressing key high street challenges. To do this we are listening to the lived experiences and perspectives of the people who know most about the high street’s challenges and opportunities — the local residents, independent businesses and organisations — through conversations, surveys and workshops. We will be working closely with them to shape and refine the 6 ideas we’ll be sharing via a toolkit in May based on their local expertise and knowledge, and which of the two of those ideas should be piloted in June.
  3. Data to evaluate the impact of the two pilots. These findings allow us to share an evidence-base of impact, learnings, and recommendations for any further development of pilots — whether within these two project locations or by other high streets nationwide. We will collect this information using an initial series of on-street research studies in May as a baseline (similar to a Public Life Street Assessment), and then compare our findings with a repeat study in June whilst the pilots are in place. Research activities will include a range of studies — from footfall counts to mapping of pedestrian behaviour and interviews with passers-by. Each carried out at different times of day, simultaneously by a team of 4 researchers in different locations along the high street.

Co-design.

The High Street Tweak website is our ‘shop front’ for our engagement and co-design activities.
  • Not pre-defining what the two ‘high street tweak’ pilots will look like ahead of time, but designing, developing and deciding on these with local stakeholders at digital workshops to understand what will work best, is most feasible and will deliver most impact for the high street and its businesses in June.
  • Aiming for genuine collaboration from as early in the project as possible. For example, through conversations and co-creation workshops with local people to together develop, design and decide pilots.
  • Respecting the experiences, time and input of local stakeholders. For example, by providing local businesses taking part in workshops with incentives recognising their time (including photography, illustration or digital marketing packages), and by summarising and synthesising previous local consultation reports so we avoid perpetuating consultation fatigue and respect the time and input already provided by the community, and can better use the time they have for project-specific discussions that help shape and develop the pilots.
  • An open inclusive approach that allows diverse voices as part of these conversations. For example, by asking via initial surveys which time slots would suit different people best, and any digital support required to attend online workshops. We are also deliberately targeting project resources toward engaging with young people who often do not have a voice in shaping their local places.

Direct from the project team: our thoughts and diaries from inside the project process — April 2021.

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