The High Streets for All programme involved several local partners, including the Bexleyheath Business Improvement District (BID) and the Council.
The partners secured funding from the Mayor of London’s High Streets for All Challenge to bring forward an innovative community-led high street vision for Bexleyheath, focused on the Broadway area.
A series of events and activities were run to test new approaches to revitalising Bexleyheath town centre. The High Streets for All programme started in May 2021 and completed at the end of May 2023.
Through previous engagement, surveys and discussions with the local community, including local businesses and stakeholders, two key priorities were highlighted for the improvement of Bexleyheath Town Centre.
Supporting a better transition from day-time to night-time economy
Working with young people on the future of the town centre
High Streets for All Partners
The High Streets for All partnership brought together experienced individuals and organisations from various sectors and disciplines with an interest in Bexleyheath’s future - supported by a team of experts led by specialist architects We Made That. The partners are passionate about finding solutions to the immediate recovery as well as the longer-term future of Bexleyheath.
High Streets for All activities
Bexleyheath Night Markets
As part of this initiative, Bexleyheath Night Markets took place on the last Friday of each month from June through October, in the heart of the town centre. Up to forty unique traders were present at each market and provided a range of street food, artisan products, craft beers, cocktails, and more. Local businesses showed their support for the markets as many of them extended their opening hours on market nights to help stimulate the night-time economy.
Several of the markets hosted activities for children, while the market event in September boasted a talent show organised and performed by local young people. At the July and September night markets, some of the stalls featured products designed and marketed by local young entrepreneurs as part of the Youth Enterprise Programme.
Young people in Bexleyheath
Understanding young people’s needs and aspirations in Bexleyheath was a vital part of the High Streets for All programme.
A series of engagement processes, workshops, and activities were coordinated to facilitate intergenerational dialogues and to allow young people to inform the future of Bexleyheath's town centre. Included in the programme were:
Intergenerational Co-design Workshops
Engagement with Students from local schools and elderly residents to discuss their town centre experience
A Youth Enterprise Challenge
Young people learnt business and marketing, and developing products sold on 29 July Night Market
Young Curators Workshops
Young people learnt how to co-curate an event - part of 30 September Night Market
Wayfinding and Public Realm pilot
Feedback arising from engagement with school students and from the intergenerational co-design workshop suggested that students would appreciate the provision of alternative routes from school to the bus stops in the Market Place and - since many students live out of borough - more guidance on relevant facilities and leisure options located in Bexleyheath and its surrounding area. It also suggested that the introduction of some playful features into the town centre - located away from Market Place - would be beneficial. Both interventions were designed to dilute the number of young people arriving simultaneously at the Market Place.
Due to restricted project funding, it was not possible to introduce alternative school routes for all Bexleyheath secondary schools, but We Made That and the Partnership worked with one local secondary school - St Catherines on Watling Street - to devise an alternative route to and from the Market Place and the school gate. This route, taking in Martens Grove Park and its BMX track, has now been marked out with colourful lamp column banners - some of which highlight famous people with links to the locality (e.g. Kate Bush). Alongside the installation of wayfinding banners, the project has also seen the introduction of other small-scale features, such as new seats and gaming tables, which are designed to encourage young people to linger and enjoy parts of the town centre away from the Market Place.