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Urban Design Compendium

Case Study 019 - Retaining character through a rental scheme

019 - Marylebone High Street

Over the last decade, Marylebone High Street has transformed from a fading shopping street with 51 empty shops to a street that is thriving. Since the 1990s the landowners, Howard de Walden Estates, have initiated a strategic process of transformation, to ensure a mix of boutiques and small but useful shops on the high street.

The aim is to ‘maximise the village atmosphere and not swamp it with multi-national retailers so it is indistinguishable from any other high street’, explains Steven Hudson of Howard de Walden Estates. He adds, ‘It is essential to maintain a diverse and interesting retail mix offering good quality products, and this concept is continually reviewed.’ Tenants are chosen to add to the quality of the high street, and the landlords do not simply accept the highest offers from big chains. Waitrose, however, was specifically targeted as an anchor tenant.

Today, Marylebone High Street has a diverse mix of shops, cafés and restaurants, making it not only a popular destination but also an area with a distinct identity. Traffic and parking strategies have also been aligned to work for the social and economic benefit of the shopping street. The single ownership of Howard de Walden Estates has made the regeneration of Marylebone High Street easier. However, long-term thinking, a clear strategy and planning in the right mix of uses along a street can achieve similar results elsewhere. Andrew Ashenden, Chief Executive of Howard de Walden Estates at the time of the project, identifies the economic imperatives for a successful high street – ‘Shoppers must have variety, owners have to have growth and tenants have to do well.’

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UDC2 Section - Sowing the Seedg the Seed  

Marylebone High Street has retained its character by encouraging independent retailers and minimising the number of multi-national retailers.

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