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Faith In Food Halls: Why Scrumptious Food Could Be The Key To Regeneration


If you want to revive the high street, put your faith in the F-Hub.

The flexible food hall, now renamed the F-Hub, is already marching across the land as a tool of urban regeneration.

Now it is being claimed as a potential anchor for high street recovery.

Data from specialist retail and leisure consultancy P-Three suggested there are opportunities for up to 2.9M SF of UK food hall development in 173 locations.

The sector, which provides bohemian food to eat-in, plus ingredients to take home to a largely young urban demographic, began to grow in 2017. That year as many as 20 food halls opened in London alone. The F-Hub’s appeal to community values and wholesome living is now expected to propel it to yet greater prominence.

P-Three said F-Hubs will still be centred on food, but they will also critically have the flexibility to respond to local demand for other uses such as the arts, cinema, retail, cultural, flex workspace or educational spaces.  

P-Three pointed to CACI findings that showed that consumers now place a much higher value on a sense of localism, community and social responsibility, and that there has been a step change in online engagement thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. This leap forward in consumer behaviour coupled with a reassessment by society on how it engages with ‘place’ and other factors such as reduced mobility and recessionary fears have created a marketplace that is extremely favourable for community F-Hubs, the consultancy claimed.

“Community F-Hubs have the potential to lead the regeneration of high streets and town centres,” P-Three co-founder Thomas Rose said.

“The regular footfall and spend generated will act as a catalyst for local regeneration as well as adding value to neighbouring properties, making the proposition particularly attractive to both private and public sector landowners and investors.” 

Community F-Hubs will need to respond to their local catchment, meaning deep local knowledge will be key to determining what other uses will work most effectively alongside an F-Hub in any given location. With a focus on supporting local business it is expected that independent producers and offline, real life leisure underscores an inherent and sustainable demand for community F-Hubs.

Private investors and local authorities are well-placed to exploit the potential to own and operate community F-Hubs, or to joint venture with entrepreneurial food operators to cater for the new generation of consumers, P-Three said. Empowering local residents and workers will create a sense of community pride and ownership that will be crucial to the financial viability of community F-Hubs.