Market Rasen has been chosen as one of only ten towns to take part in a £250,000 project to breath new life into high streets.
Professors from Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) will be working over the next six years to bring cutting-edge research directly to Market Rasen high street as part of a project called High Street UK 2020.
The retail experts have linked up with Market Rasen Business Improvement Group (MR BIG) to exchange knowledge through a series of local workshops, regional-themed seminars and an online support centre.
The university says these free resources will give the town “unrivalled access” to research normally unattainable by local groups like MR BIG.
The project will make it possible to model different futures for the high street and create appropriate plans for each scenario that could play out over the next few years.
MMU marketing and retail enterprise chairman and co-researcher for parliament’s ‘high street Britain 2015’ report, professor Cathy Parker is leading the project with Simon Quin - director of the Institute of Place Management and co-author of ‘vital and viable town centres: meeting the challenge’ report.
Prof Parker said: “The changing nature of retail in Britain brings many benefits to consumers but is having significant consequences for communities and retailers themselves.
“Having suffered the impact of out-of-town shopping for some 30 years, evidence shows that the threat to high streets in Britain is now at an unprecedented level.
“But despite this research, government-commissioned reports and extensive media coverage, it is far from clear that retailers, local actors and agencies responsible for managing places know how to respond effectively.”
The project will focus on understanding the changing nature of retail along with getting to grips with changes in high street space usage and what forces are influencing changes.
Prof Parker said: “This project will review and distil the evidence relating to spatial change for high streets in Britain, to enable individual locations to forecast the likely future for their high street in 2020 if no intervention takes place.
“We want to identify a variety of appropriate and sustainable interventions available to make an alternative, sustainable future for their high street in 2020.”
The team has been awarded a £112,000 grant from the Economic and Social Research Council with £140,000 investment coming from partners, including footfall data specialists Springboard.
The project starts this month and workshops are due to take place in the spring.