How can Town Centre Development “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all?”
This is at the forefront of UN Sustainable Development Goal 4. So how do we at the Whatif Group incorporate this goal into our Town Centre Developments? Kevin Parkes, Co-Founder of the Whatif Group who has over 25 years of senior management experience in local government, his education and initial career in town centre planning says, “the key objective for us here is helping use the platform of town centres to connect education with business. To give education the chance to teach much more real-life experience, rather than classroom theory. And for that to transpose to teaching young people more practical things and maybe, tailoring education towards particular skills gaps.”
Its’ because of this belief, that both founders are working hard to incorporate making Town Centres the hub of enterprise and innovation as part of their Town Centre Development plans. Paul Wright Co-Founder of the Whatif Group and author of a Framework called Place First Economics says “In terms of where we are in the world of town centres and changes in society – there is an undoubted opportunity to make town centres the hub of enterprise and innovation – bringing together business and education in an environment that interfaces with the community. The sustainability of town centre real estate relies on the health and prosperity of the communities where we invest. It is not possible to create sustainability therefore without putting back in.”
How can we make this happen?
Already Universities are recognising the need to partner with businesses, to give their students real life and work experiences. Developers like the WhatIf Group intend to incorporate this working partnership into their plans from the beginning. There are so many different skills that are required, that students could get involved in architecture, town centre planning, landscaping, environmental plans, project management, construction, feasibility studies and much more. There will be a need for all stakeholders to be involved and open to working with students, with a holistic approach to Town Centre Development. Students will be living and studying in the local area and will have experienced “what is lacking” and can bring fresh ideas to the table. This whole approach of involving the local community in the decision making, planning and implementation of development projects will also encourage investment. The injection of youth and creativity is invigorating for investors (source: google / St Martin College). This new approach can address the socioeconomic and physical issues of Town Centres, helping to improve their performance.
The Whatif Group will be using Place First Economics as the Partnership’s Governance which, will promote a circular economy improving the economics of the Town Centre, making Shopping Centres the hub of the community and the place to work, live and play. (See:https://whatifgroup.io/wpcontent/uploads/2021/10/Place-First-Economics-2021-003.pdf)
They are currently actively engaging in projects such as working with Salford University looking at Green Infrastructure, inside and outside a shopping centre and its value to the well-being of the community. Working with BCEGI UK a construction company with a desire to work with young people making sure they are equipped for the workplace of the future.
If you are in Planning or Economic Development and interested in developing your own town centre or, if you are an Investor looking to invest in not just infrastructure but in the future of young people or, if you simply just want to know more please contact [email protected] or [email protected]