EM Talk

The BPF Futures Challenge is a ground-breaking initiative that will put real estate’s future leaders at the heart of solving one of the biggest challenges facing our towns and cities: how to breathe new life into our high streets and town centres.


We speak to the Experience Makers taking part to find out what motivated them to apply and step up to the challenge!

Janine Zager

Business Development Executive, Equiem

What’s got you excited about the BPF Futures Challenge?

I’m excited to be involved in the BPF Futures Challenge as I think it’s an excellent initiative to have a say in shaping the way places and communities come together. Using creativity and real life experiences I look forward to presenting a solution to the much talked about topic of ‘the dying high street’- a problem that my generation is seen to be the root cause of. Being guided by the expert panel and potentially seeing our ideas become a reality is an exciting opportunity. May the best team win!

What does ‘the high street’ mean to you?

A central place to any community. A place to socialise, shop and connect. Although I do most of my shopping online, for me, the high street encapsulates the real community of a town or city.

Tom Atkinson

Customer Performance Manager | Commercial Development, TFL

What’s got you excited about the BPF Futures Challenge?

The chance to look at a sector – in bricks-and-mortar – that has been a fairly traditional and inflexible, with a new set of eyes alongside people not long into their careers. I know from my public sector property company, which partners a lot with the private sector, that working together brings new ideas, a diversity of thought and background, and we can create better places. And there are huge opportunities for the high street as retail and property changes. At Transport for London, we are looking at how we can invest to support businesses on our estate who form de facto high streets in arches and retail units across London.

What does ‘the high street’ mean to you?

The high street has different meanings depending on where you are in the country. For some it is chocolate-box idyll, with independent shops and a village, community feel. Elsewhere it can be used almost as a snobbish, pejorative phrase, thinking about the term ‘high street fashion’. There are lots of things in common across these different meanings. One that means most to me is a sense of democracy and accessibility – high streets are about the places they are in and are for everyone. They need to reflect the people who use them and live near them to thrive. They are for Primark and for the village bakery, for low-income families, young professionals, older people…

Nikki Van Grimbergen

Project Assistant, Meanwhile Space CIC

What’s got you excited about the BPF Futures Challenge?

I am working on Open Doors with Meanwhile Space CIC which is a pilot scheme taking place in five areas across the UK. It matches landlords struggling to find tenants for their empty properties with community groups looking for space. We are currently calling for ideas from the community to activate the space that could make positive use of this high street space. I’m interested to see what other initiatives are doing. It’s great that there are so many people innovating around the changing landscape of the High Street.

What does ‘the high street’ mean to you?

The high street is a vital public space for different people to mix and share space with one another. I love that is has a variety of rhythms that builds a sense of local identity and is where community thrives.

Phillippa Banister

Founder Directos, Streetspace

What’s got you excited about the BPF Futures Challenge?

High streets in towns across the UK offer a huge untapped potential for community and local economies to thrive. In order to unlock this potential we need to test ideas within a place and work collaboratively in new ways, enabling activity and ideas to grow from the bottom up. The BPF Challenge will hopefully create the conditions for all this to happen!

What does ‘the high street’ mean to you?

High Street means bustling, markets, people not cars, shops and cafe’s spilling out on to the street, people meeting each other, sitting and gossiping in a place filled with local character and identity.