The consistent struggles of our high street are well documented and blame tends to fall at the feet of retail. However, by exploring beyond traditional uses, some alternative options are entering the high street environment. These options look to drive footfall to re-energise the high street and promote a healthy lifestyle.
Until now, there are only a handful of examples of healthcare services occupying space on the high street. However, some healthcare providers, both NHS and private, are looking to maximise on this opportunity to enable communities to have quicker and more convenient access to healthcare services, as demonstrated by the new Marble Street BUPA Health Centre.
There is growing support for this model. The Royal Society of Public Health 2018 report Health on the High Street - Running on Empty identifies community pharmacies, opticians, dentists, leisure centres and health clubs as extremely valuable assets ‘in promoting and supporting community health’. It also recommends setting business rates relief for tenants based on how much their business promotes healthy living.
However, if convenience is a driving force in the location of services, digital disruption continues to shake up how care is delivered, as shown by the continued expansion of the Babylon GP at Hand service and Amazon’s very recent announcement of their acquisition of Health Navigator.
Digital transformation that enables quick access to healthcare and aims to reduce time spent out of the office at the GP or sick at home is very much welcomed. There will no doubt be a consequential impact on the amount of physical space required and where it is located. With this shift in ‘delivery’ channels, might we see an introduction of more call-centre / server spaces, rather than accessible high-street health services that promote and support physical and mental well-being?
Whilst still a developing concept, it is exciting to see what this interplay between healthcare and the high street will bring to our communities.