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The University of Southampton
Geography and Environmental Science

High street research highlighted in ESRC Impact Report

Published: 30 July 2014

The research of Neil Wrigley, Professor of Human Geography at the University of Southampton and Fellow of the British Academy, has been highlighted in the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) Research Performance and Economic Impact Report (RPEI) 2012/13.

The ESRC are the UK's largest funder of research on economic and social issues, supporting independent, high quality research that impacts business, the public sector and the third sector. Their RPEI report aims to promote and support world class research that creates substantial economic, social and academic impact.

Professor Wrigley’s work is shown on page 6 of the report and outlines the significance of his team’s studies that look at the social, economic and environmental impacts of alternative visions of the high street over the last 25 years.

The research team, led by Professor Wrigley, has been consulting expert panels of opinion leaders from retail and property industries, local and national government, academia, and key stakeholders. They have also been exploring case studies of specific high streets and examining successful small and medium-sized business to see how they can act as “local heroes” in their towns.

The work is having a major impact on the future of the UK’s town centres and their findings are helping these centres adapt to and survive current economic change. Their research has contributed to evidence-based policy debate for more than a decade and has been quoted in planning forums and parliament. It has become part of the Portas Review that is helping shape the future of town centres.

The findings have been presented to an All Party Parliamentary Group on Town Centres, at the House of Commons, and to the British Retail Consortium. Neil has also presented his work at the Politeia, a forum for social and economic thinking, and is the only academic representative on the government’s High Street Taskforce that brings together leaders across retail, property and business to better understand the competition town centres face and to drive forward new ideas and policies.

Professor Wrigley’s pioneering research ranks him consistently as one of the world’s leading economic geographers, credited with research and policy contributions relating to the rise and implications of retailer power in the global economy.

The full report can be downloaded from the ESRC website and more about Professor Wrigley’s research can be found on the Geography and Environment website.

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