Local authorities are being offered free expert advice, mentoring and other help from a panel of 15o experts, funded by the Government, to assist them evolve their town centres, progress local plans, bid for investment, and respond to the impact of COVID-19.

The new ‘experts register’ from the High Street Task Force brings together experienced professionals across a broad range of specialisms, from architecture to planning, sustainable design, place leadership and civic engagement. The Task Force has recruited the experts with the help of professional bodies including Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI), Landscape Institute, Design Council, and the Institute of Place Management.

Those appointed will act as Experts, Mentors and Facilitators, delivering a range of services, including workshops with local authorities and communities to explore and build local visions, mentoring for place leaders, and bespoke advice to help councils tackle complex issues that are blocking progress.

The Task Force has provided online support and resources for places since June 2020, focusing on COVID-19 response and recovery as well as longer term regeneration. Appointed Experts, Mentors and Facilitators will continue this work through a mix of remote and in-person delivery where appropriate, beginning in late 2020 with places selected by the Task Force based on local need.

In building the experts register, each body has identified a list of between ten and twelve areas of expertise which are represented by its membership. This approach is intended to ensure that towns are supported by those with specific expertise that are best placed to advise on their issues.

Those appointed include Rob Pearson, Executive Director of Nexus Planning, who called it “a wonderful opportunity to actively participate in re-imagining our high streets."

Some of the 150 others are David Hill, Co-Founder of DSDHA Architects; Mo Aswat, Director of The Mosaic Partnership; Esther Worboys, Placemaking Manager at Activate; Phil Jones, Chairman of PJA;  Holly Lewis, Co-Founding Partner of We Made That; Dave Chetwyn, managing director at Urban Vision Enterprise; Owen Davies, founder of Owen Davies Consulting; Tristan Hutton, Director at WYG Group; Penny Moss, Associate at Planning Potential; Annie W W Pang, co-founder of  Adrian Salt And Pang Limited; Stefano Smith, founding director at Stefano Smith Planning; Keith Thomas, director at Per Consulting Ltd; Mike Taylor, managing director at Chilmark Consulting; Dr Steven Norris, national head of planning, development and regeneration at Lambert Smith Hampton; Paul Shuker, director at Lambert Smith Hampton; Nicole Roe, planning associate at Barton Willmore.

The HSTF is supported by the Institute of Place Management, a professional body for people involved in making, maintaining and marketing places, which is part of Manchester Metropolitan University.

Professor Cathy Parker, Co-Director of the Institute of Place Management and Research Lead for the High Streets Task Force, said "there are the very current challenges of ensuring communities can use their high streets with confidence, providing appropriate support for businesses and other organisations. At the same time, place leaders are managing the evolution of centres so they become vibrant community hubs."

Simon Quin, Executive Director of the High Streets Task Force said: "our Experts will work with places in greatest need. They bring deep insight into town centre change and experience of working with communities to build capacity.This will support the development of  the collaborative and challenging visions our town centres require."

All those appointed as High Streets Task Force Experts have at least 5 years’ experience and can demonstrate where they have helped solve similar complex place-based challenges relevant to their field. Experts, Mentors or Facilitators have all committed to the High Streets Task Force Charter which ensures high standards of professional conduct and ways of working.