Are Our Town centres “Sick?”
When we are ailing, we usually take a prescribed or over the counter medicine or two, and if things don’t improve, we go to see our GP. We can be referred to a specialist, from there undergo a series of tests and may end up seeing a surgeon and having an operation. The operation to make us well takes a collaborative approach from many people, the surgeon, the anaesthetist, the theatre nurses etc., all following their own set of rules but in agreement on what they need to do to approve the health of the patient, and the part they each play in that recovery.
What If our town centres are “sick” though, how do we revive them and the community within them.? The Town Centre is the Heart of our community and if it is fails, the town becomes tired and dilapidated, the community goes elsewhere out of town, to get the things it needs. Eventually crime moves in like a sickness, vandalism, burglaries, those dependent on alcohol and drugs and it becomes the place “not to go to.” For a long time, the approach has always been the same with the council acting as the surgeon and determining the outcome, following set rules and guidance without the foresight to look to the future and whether those rules are actually relevant now.
How do we change this and inject energy and revitalise town centres? Well, like the surgical team a collaborative approach needs to be implemented, with the public sector working alongside the private sector and private sector investment. Each making the other aware of the rules they need to follow but making informed decisions together on how to improve the town centre health. How many centres are concrete jungles, old fashioned, full of charity shops for example. How can that be? Economies of scale would tell us to limit the competition and make it varied but if you do not have a commercial background, you wouldn’t know this. You would be thinking you need to fill empty spaces with anything so long as they were occupied. You think about the short-term results rather than the longer-term impact.
Medical teams don’t do that, they assess everything, they plan, bring in everyone who might be needed for the operation and then think about the aftercare and the long-term support that might be needed, so the person has continued good health. So how can we incorporate this approach towards our towns? We do it by working alongside forward thinking, experienced consultants in real estate, who have in-depth knowledge and understanding of all sides. Consultants who can help the public sector tap into the private sector expertise, and efficiencies and private sector to understand public sector funding , restraints, objectives and practices. Who are they? They are the Whatif Group!
Their approach offers a new mindset of truly creative thinking and delivery for real estate and regeneration, with a particular emphasis on town centres in the North and Midlands supporting the “levelling up“ agenda. Uniquely fusing public and private sector expertise whey offer the “balance“ needed to create the commonality for a collaborative, successful and sustainable future with multi-stakeholder outcomes. Their Town Innovation Partnership and Place First Economic Framework , form the perfect model for improving the Heart of our communities. Great places within which people live, work & play forming the basis for sustainable town centre futures. Providing the aftercare through 3rd and 4th sector involvement ,to ensure they remain healthy and fit for continuous future purpose.
Why will this work? The Whatif Group have signed up to the United Nations Social Development Goals incorporating 5 of them into their Ethos. One of those Goals is Health & Wellbeing. This is greatly shown throughout their strategy to develop sustainable town centres, improving the Health & Wellbeing of the town centre, improves the Health & Wellbeing of the community that lives ,works and plays in them. Naturally the economy improves and so it goes on. Why do they think this is the way forward? Not just because it is the right thing to do but because the Directors and Associates all believe in making a difference and working for the longevity of communities. They live and breathe their chosen goals and through those values they can change our town centres for the better.