CounterCoin and the Environmental Impact of Venues

By Steve Collis from Melbourne, Australia – Manchester United Panorama, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=24306858

Guest Blog article by James Scott Vandeventer

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.

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How a Task Force might help English town and city centres


Dover Town Centre. Photo taken from Cannon Street.
Photo by Eluveitie – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=18829651

by Simon Quin

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 Minister (2013).

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Eleusis2021 – Planning a European Capital of Culture

Eleusis as seen from the Archaeological Museum. Ancient ruins, chimneys and the harbour mark its landscape. Photo by the author.

by Prof Ares Kalandides

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.

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Short-term holiday flat rental in Athens

Athens. Image by Iason Athanassiadis via Apartment in Athens

By Prof Ares Kalandides

Finding an affordable flat to rent in Athens has recently turned into an almost impossible affair. In the past five years, rents in the Greek capital have risen sharply, whilst at the same time period real wages have collapsed. One of the many possible causes behind the scarcity of rental space is the transformation of dwellings into short-term holiday flats. Airbnb is not the only provider, but definitely the largest and most iconic one.

Indeed, in the centre of Athens alone, the number of listings on the platform rose from 1,500 in 2014 to 7,500 two years later, and up to 16,000 by June 2018[1]. These flats are not distributed evenly in the city, but affect certain areas more heavily (Plaka, Thisio, Koukaki, Exarcheia). In 2016, Koukaki featured as number 5 of Airbnb’s sixteen recommended neighbourhoods worldwide[2] causing residents to form an association in order to stop their displacement. A recent law has made attempts to regulate the development: limits to the rental period (max. 90 days a year); the prohibition to rent out more than one flat under the same tax number (and thus avoid businesses with multi-site rentals); and a progressive tax system for income from short-term rentals.

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Shrewsbury Big Town Plan

Guest article by Aleks Vladimirov*

SHREWSBURY – The Birthplace of Charles Darwin

What does Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution and adaptability to the outer environment have to do with place management? With uncertainty being the new normal, an evolutionary perspective on place management can help move from static and isolated plans to a process mindset. What better place to test such a perspective than Darwin’s home town – Shrewsbury in the United Kingdom.


Opening Pages of the BIG TOWN PLAN document produced to share its intentions
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All the world’s a stage: are international expos relevant today?


Guest article by Dan Nicholls

Back in 2015, I was lucky enough to attend Expo 2015 in the elegant city of Milan alongside an Indonesian Investment Forum I was in town for. It was the first international expo I had attended, and it didn’t disappoint. I spent the best part of a day wondering the expansive site, visiting the pavilions of countries from all around the world, taking in a wonderous array of art, music, dance, design and food.

As I left the site that evening, my stomach and soul were more than content: I’d feasted on everything from Malaysian satays and Spanish cheeses, to Lebanese wine and Italian gelato. Elsewhere in the expo, I’d been treated to a unique rendition of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody on a set of angklung (an Indonesian bamboo instrument) and a surprise appearance by U2’s Bono. But the same questions kept going around in my mind – what’s the purpose of these expos, and are they worth it?

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How social landlords could hold the key to transforming places


View of One Manchester properties on the edge of the city centre

Guest article by Tom Bassford*

I work in a sector that’s committed to making places better; we own 3.9 million properties across England and provide homes to 17% of all households[1].  We built 26% of all new homes across the country last year[2]. And we reinvest all our profits in homes and communities.

Despite having many shared objectives, the social housing sector has had little to do with the Institute of Place Management – until now.

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Places – not Destinations

Screenshot from an article in a mainstream UK newspaper

by Prof Ares Kalandides

Forest fires devastate large areas on the Mediterranean every year, some of them – such as the 2018 fire in Mati, Greece which cost 100 people their lives – with numerous casualties. These are places, built over decades or centuries, where people live the year round, with or without visitors. It is with growing horror that I read – year after year – media outlets referring to these places as “holiday islands” (or “Ferieninsel” in German). Admittedly, for many Brits and Germans, this is what most of these islands are, and the local population is just a folklore backdrop for their holiday spending. But, even if we see it just from the journalist’s viewpoint: what exactly would the article (s. screenshot above) miss in terms of information if its title were “Wildfires hit Greek island” omitting the attribute “holiday”? Continue reading “Places – not Destinations”

Big city BIDs and their role in regional economies

Source: Office for National Statistics

by Prof Cathy Parker

I was recently invited to give a keynote speech at the Annual General Meeting of Leeds Business Improvement District (LeedsBID) which is a business-led, not-for-profit, non political organisation that networks over nearly 1,000 business and organisations and raises over £2.4m per year of additional income to invest in the city. And Leeds is doing very well. Footfall is up, investment is up, the local economy is buoyant.

But cities have always been agglomerators of key industries, infrastructure and jobs. They accommodate important services and facilities in a spatially-efficient manner.  Not every town or city can have its own banking sector or its own airport etc. It makes sense to strengthen our cities because they need to serve a wide geographical catchment.  Continue reading “Big city BIDs and their role in regional economies”

Mobility and immobility: the unequal politics of transportation

Treacle Market Macclesfied
Treacle Market Macclesfield

By Prof Ares Kalandides

A version of this blog post has been submitted as written evidence to the ‘Health of the bus market’ inquiry currently being run by UK Parliament’s Transport Committee https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/health-of-bus-market-17-19/

The Treacle Market takes place on the last Sunday of each month in the Cheshire town of Macclesfield, UK. Over 160 stalls sell local delicacies, vintage clothes, antiques and handicrafts. The streets of Macclesfield bustle with life, attracting people from towns and villages in the area. However, this regionally important event recently received a serious blow: in April 2018 the partly subsided bus services in Cheshire East – run by Arriva, a subsidiary of Deutsche Bahn (German Rail), the latter property of the German state[1] – were reorganized, with the result that villages were left without connecting buses on week-day evenings and all day on Sunday.

“As IPM research has shown, accessibility is the number 1 factor affecting town centre vitality and viability. For many communities, the local bus service is imperative. Especially for people with mobility issues. What may be considered as edge of town to someone who is able-bodied is not walkable for others.”

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