The High Streets Task Force is a group of placemaking professionals that aim to improve England’s town centres by advising local leaders and communities on issues around planning, urban design, placemaking, landscape architecture, and leadership.
The task force was launched in May 2019 by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, which said at the time that "planning experts" would be seconded to local authorities to help rejuvenate their high streets. It is run by the Institute of Place Management on behalf of the government.
Last week, the task force announced it had appointed "over 150 experienced professionals to work with towns in England over the next four years, supporting their transformation efforts and helping to tackle complex barriers to change".
The appointments would form a new "experts register" made up of "experienced professionals across a broad range of specialisms, from architecture to planning, to sustainable design, place leadership and civic engagement".
It added that the experts have been recruited from the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), the Landscape Institute, the Design Council, and the Institute of Place Management. The RTPI has reported that more than 30 of its members have been appointed as experts.
Among the planning experts appointed are five consultants from Nexus Planning, who are:
Shaun Andrews, executive director, Nexus London
Peter Tooher, executive director, Nexus Manchester
Rob Pearson, executive director, Nexus London
Richard Shepherd, director, Nexus Manchester
James Singer, associate, Nexus London
According to the firm, task force experts will visit high streets and town centre, and work with "place leaders" and communities to identify and address the key issues that are standing in the way of the "successful transformation" of such areas. They will consult with local authorities to help solve these challenges and may also run workshops with the local community.
Shaun Andrews, executive director at Nexus London, said: “We cannot wait to get started and help with the next stage of their evolution.”
Richard Shepherd, director at Nexus Manchester, added: “We believe that the High Streets Task Force provides a genuine opportunity to provide innovative solutions to ensure that our high streets respond to current difficulties and are able to thrive.”
This article was amended at 12.30pm on 14 October 2020 to clarify that the five experts named are part of a wider group of planning professionals appointed to the task force. The individuals named are the planners from a single consultancy firm, Nexus Planning, that have been appointed to the task force. Planning is seeking to confirm the identity of the other planning professionals on the task force, and will publish further details as soon as possible. We apologise for any confusion caused.