Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Friday, November 02, 2018

UK "Health on the High Street" report

-- Health on the High Street: Running on Empty, Royal Society for Public Health

In the UK, "High Streets," are what we call "Main Streets," or more generally traditional commercial districts (non-malls).

The report evaluates these commercial districts in terms of the health qualities of their offerings.  According to the Guardian story "Grimsby named unhealthiest high street in UK by RSPH study":
Those deemed unhealthy included payday lenders, bookmakers, tanning salons and fast food outlets. Those deemed healthy included pubs and bars, libraries and museums, pharmacies, dentists, opticians and leisure centres.
Of course, the problem is that at the scale of store space by store space, specific planning permissions aren't usually required, although there can be exceptions.

For example, some cities put limitations on chains. Laguna Beach, California zones some areas and spaces specifically for "locally serving retail." Certain commercial district zoning categories in DC require special hearings for approvals of certain kinds of businesses like fast food restaurants and prohibits "drive through" businesses.

In any case, planning supports for aiming for healthier businesses is possible, along with incentives to support the kinds of businesses that help to round out the range for what's offered.

E.g., years ago, in a Washington Post story, "Grocery store openings boost underserved communities in D.C. region, about the opening of an Aldi hard discount supermarket in Northeast DC, one person was quoted talking about the need for more discounted pricing options, and it made me realize that community retail planning, especially for food, needs to consider price point options in doing supermarket recruiting and food security planning. From the article:
“I’ve been praying that they’d bring a store like Aldi’s or Wal-Mart to this neighborhood because that’s where we spend our money,” Davis said. “The stores where consumers spend most of their money is outside of D.C. This is going to improve everything in the neighborhood.”

City officials said having a branch of Aldi, which is known for low prices, will help meet several needs.
Note that the RSPH study is a little different--broader, but similar studies have been conducted on the availability of supermarkets and the lack thereof, called "food deserts" and the prevalence of fast food restaurants in low income communities.

Separately, the BBC reports on a different study, looking at the number of carryout food stores on High Streets, "More takeaways on high street despite anti-obesity push," and the density of carryouts being associated with higher rates of obesity.

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