The National Rural Conference 2024

The Rural Services Network (RSN) is thrilled to announce the National Rural Conference 2024, taking place from 16th to 19th September. This virtual event, accessible via Zoom, is the premier gathering for senior officers, members, policymakers, and rural service professionals.
Further information and booking details can be found here

Rural Lens of Build Back Better High Streets

The Government's recently launched Build Back Better High Streets strategy sets out the government’s long term plan to support the evolution of high streets into thriving places to work, visit and live. But have they really considered the role that rural high streets play in their wider community, and how they can best be supported?

The Rural Services Network has published it’s latest Rural Lens Review into the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy, along with extracts from the Hospitality Strategy and it can be accessed at this link.

The Rural Lens series published by the RSN, is where we have reviewed Government strategies and plans from a rural perspective, highlighting your attention to key parts that may affect your rural communities and service delivery.

The Build Back Better High Streets Plan lacks any mention of the wider economic or social issue which are faced by people, businesses or communities in rural areas and which do themselves have an impact on High Streets – this is why the RSN continues to say “It’s Time for a (cross governmental department) Rural Strategy” and the need for our current campaign “Revitalising Rural: Realising the Vision” in which the RSN sets out a series of “asks” to government.  “Asks” relevant to both the Build Back Better High Streets Plan and Hospitality Strategy feature in this Rural Lens Review.

The Government expresses its vision for High Streets as:

“We want to help every part of the country achieve the same: vibrant high streets where communities are at the heart of place-making; where a mix of commercial and residential uses complement each other; and where businesses large and small feel welcome.

We want to help areas create a vision that brings together planning, design and management of public spaces and local community assets to create local areas that promote people’s health, happiness, and well-being. We will be relentless in reducing the blight of boarded up shops, uncleanliness and disrepair.

To unleash places’ potential, we want local leaders to champion their communities and be confident and flexible in responding to change. Our Great British high streets are at the heart of this country and are the core of what reflects a local area and community”.

Which the RSN recognises as laudable and yet:

  • No new money is detailed
  • No rural proofing
  • Does not recognise the financial and capacity constraints faced by rural Councils due to historic underfunding
  • Feels very urban centric
  • The importance of High Streets and historic market towns to the rural tourism offer is not particularly recognised
  • There is no recognition that in rural areas High Streets are predominantly occupied by independents (SME’s and the self-employed) rather than the multiple or big business sector. These small local businesses are the heart and soul of rural economies and High Streets, as such government proposals need to be better nuanced to meet the needs and opportunities for these businesses. 

- You can read about the Build Back Better High Streets Strategy at this link

- You can read the full Rural Lens Review of Build Back Better High Streets at this link


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