Urban stakeholders are increasingly realising the importance
of collective action in attempts to ‘future proof’ town and city centres, to
ensure that ‘their’ centre retains an important role in the economic and social
life of associated communities. Such
collective actions, often implemented under the aegis of urban management
partnerships (UMPs), raise some key questions for these organisations: what
type(s) of collective interventions are the most effective; and how to create
sufficient support for them?
In 2017-18, a research project, led by the Amsterdam
University of Applied Sciences and funded by Shopping Tomorrow (a Dutch retail and e-commerce think-tank), which
comprised an expert group containing a number of IPM researchers and members,
tried to answer these questions.
Specifically, the research – which analysed a variety of different types
of interventions in 21 towns and cities across the Netherlands, Belgium and the
UK – sought to identify and illustrate the factors that underpin successful
collective interventions aimed at ’future-proofing’ town and city centres.
Area Based Collaborative Enterprise concerns the ways in which local entrepreneurs join forces and form collectives to stimulate business growth and innovation, and to create a more attractive business environment. A clear example in a UK context would be a Business Improvement District.
The project ABCities is funded by INTERREG, a programme aims to help regional and local government to develop and deliver better policy by creating opportunities for sharing solutions to ensure government investment, innovation and interventions lead to integrated and sustainable impact for people and place, by embedding new guidance and measures within existing policy for area based economic development.
The challenge, therefore, is not necessarily poor policy,
but a concern about the mechanisms and techniques used by state institutions to
deliver place based policy.
concern about global inequality, there has been an international resurgence of
co-operative and community-focused projects and initiatives. The UK, however, offers
a particularly interesting context.
Subject to prolonged austerity measures, the capacity of local
government to intervene in local development has been drastically undermined. With
growing inequality and a pressing need to fill the gaps in under-served
communities, local authorities in many places are beginning to abandon their
paternalistic top-down approach, and to experiment with new and alternative
organisational forms of place management.
Business Improvement Districts are taking over responsibility for town and city
management, with over 300 now established. There are 471,000 social enterprises
across the country, employing 1.44 million people,
and a network of 26 designated social enterprise places,
whereas Scotland is advocating Community Improvement Districts. Most celebrated, perhaps, is The Preston
developed by Preston City Council and the Centre for Local Economic Strategies (CLES),
which has reformed local government procurement to enable key locally embedded
“anchor” institutions to run local services. The model is designed to recapture
investment and circulate local wealth within the local economy. Where gaps in
provision remain, CLES suggests the formation of new worker co-operatives.
We have recently said goodbye to all the delegates who attended this year’s 6th Corfu Symposium on Managing & Marketing Places. What am amazing group of people, all inspired to discuss various aspects of place management and marketing.
I have been researching Citizen Participation in urban development in Berlin, since 2016, when the new Berlin state government coalition signed a contract, introducing participation as one of its leading principles. When I started, I was trying to understand what the provisions of the contract were and how that could be conceptualized. Conceptualization is not just an intellectual exercise (although it is that, too): it implicitly or explicitly guides the way we think, talk and act – and also the way we design policy.
The recent report from the University of Keele, A Comparison of the Environmental Performance of Sports and Entertainment Venues for a Range of Percentage Capacities opens the debate about how to make ticketing at sports and entertainment venues work better. The report, commissioned by CounterCoin, points to ways that CounterCoin and other alternative currencies can make such venues address their environmental impacts, with relevance for Newcastle, Stoke, and beyond. In particular, by helping venues approach full capacity, CounterCoin could help these venues avoid the unnecessary overuse of energy. The report begins to show the environmental benefits of CounterCoin, which are in addition to its clear social impacts. This piece reflects on the report and some of the implications it has for CounterCoin and other similar mechanisms for inclusion.
The UK Government has announced that it is to fund the
establishment of a High Street Task Force for five years to support the
transformation of town centres in England.
During 2018, the Institute also worked closely with UK
Government to tease out some of the underlying issues affecting town centre
vitality and viability. There is a long history of policy-led responses to the
challenges of town centres in the UK, from adaptations to planning policy in
the mid-1990s (“Town centres first” and
the Sequential Test), through support for Town Centre Management and the
bringing forward of legislation to permit Business Improvement Districts (2003
in England), then a government-supported review led by retail consultant Mary
Portas (2011) to the establishment of Future High Street Forum chaired by a government
When Eleusis, a small industrial town in the vicinity of Athens, was appointed European Capital of Culture for 2021, people received the decision both with joy and surprise: Joy, because this town, once one of the most important ritual sites in ancient Greece and home to the goddess Demeter, was back on the map; Surprise, because industrialization has clearly left its mark on the town, whose landscape is marked by factory chimneys, large industrial complexes and a commercial harbour. However, the choice of the European Commission is not based on what the city is, but on what it can become according to the bid book. And it was the bid, with its promise of a “passage to EUphoria” that managed to convince the jury.
DECISION MAKING IN PLACE: GUT FEELING
making decisions most managers look up and look around, relying on their
support structures i.e. people close to them, not because of lack of experience
but for the fear of not getting their decisions right. This act of looking up
and looking around is important and it is the use of “Gut-feeling” when managers are faced with making decisions that (1)
involve large capital, (2) have significant impact on the long-term plan of
their organisations and (3) involves public exposure. Place managers like their
counterparts in other managerial areas make decisions daily. In place management, managers make decisions about
places, particularly the public realm such as town and city centres, ensuring
effective collaboration with all stakeholders, policing the centres and
improving infrastructural outlook of the places they manage. Place managers by
their decisions make a critical contribution to the thriving of places, and those
decision impacts on people’s everyday lives in places.