The Tonight programme on ITV asked and tried to answer this question. (source ITV Tonight programme 22.04.21https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yqiCMYDx0q0)
There are lots of good ideas out there as to how this can happen and some are shown in the programme but no one actually provided a long term, sustainable solution. For town centres to succeed there needs to be a joined up approach to living and working within the town centres, with all stakeholders playing an active role in the decision making process. So how do they do this?
There is no “ single silver bullet “ but The WhatifGroup has provided a simple solution through their Place First Economics (PFE) Framework. Their solution lies in blending the following seven principles in the DNA of place management built within a Framework that adapts to suit the unique idiosyncrasies.
Repurpose the built environment
Involving all sectors, public, private, third & fourth
Skills & Educational (reference- Gatsby Benchmarkswww.gatsby.org.uk)
Arts & Culture
Sustainability & renewable
Infrastructure & connectivity
Health & wellbeing
The strategy was devised by Paul Wright, who specialises in retail, leisure and town centre real estate and was recently elected as a Senior Fellow of the Institute of Place Management. He has partnered with Kevin Parkes, who has over 25 years of senior management experience in local government, (his education and initial career has been in Town Planning), to form the WhatifGroup (https:\\www.whatifgroup.io/)
The vast knowledge and experience, that both Paul and Kevin bring to any town centre development is invaluable. The strategy is detailed, well thought out, structured and destined for success. The solution is there, ready and available to visionary councils through partnering with the WhatifGroup.
Covid has had a major impact on town centres and recovery will be slow but some centres may not survive as they exist today. Councils have been hard hit financially due to the past few years of austerity and need to redefine themselves and their purpose. It is now time for councils to stop doing things the way they have always been done and to think and behave more like ethical businesses. Money and expertise will need to come from private investors, many of whom are looking for more ethical investment. Working with the Place First Economics Framework will provide the sustainable solution that’s been needed for so long, for everyone involved-councils, investors and the community. It’s time for town centres to reinvent.
if you would like more information on the Place First Economics Framework please contact [email protected] or [email protected]
(Photograph – by Benjamin Patin)