Iwas 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”→
Ireland’s town and city centres are not yet facing the same loss of sales to online retailing as those in the UK (now 17% of all sales according to the Centre for Retail Research), but they are extremely concerned about the likely impact of Brexit, still feeling the impact of out of town shopping, and seeing other social and technological change. An event in Sligo in October 2017 attracted delegates from across both the Republic and Northern Ireland to discuss the changes affecting town centres and how they can best respond.
Chaired by Bobby Kerr, the Chairman of Insomnia Coffee and a campaigner for ‘Winning Back the High Street’, the event opened by looking at the potentially eventually devastating impact of Brexit on many Irish towns despite the strength of the national economy. Catherine Curran, from the Department for Business, Enterprise and Innovation then presented the Framework for Town Centre Renewal (https://dbei.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/A-Framework-for-Town-Centre-Renewal.pdf) document that was launched in April 2017. This document was developed by an influential group of interested parties from the public and private sectors, including Dublin Town BID, who came together as the Retail Consultation Forum. Recognising the inherent strengths of town centres and their significant role in the economy, the document proposes a three-stage process for all town centres in the country.
Step One is to develop the evidence base by engaging with stakeholders and undertaking a health check. Guidance on this is provided in the report and indicators, such as footfall, diversity, competition, and vacancy, are described.
Step Two is about collaboration and bringing together a group of stakeholders. The document talks about local champions and representation and provides examples from existing Town Teams, BIDs and other partnerships in various locations.
The third step is the preparation of a plan for town centre renewal with a vision, strategy and action plan and some key performance indicators. The Framework helpfully highlights the national policy framework within which local action plans will need to operate. It also looks at potential interventions and details how these should be addressed.
Although much of what is in the Framework will be familiar to those engaged in place management in the UK, the concept has not been widely adopted yet in Ireland and the document is well presented and easy to read and will hopefully lead to much wider take-up. It will also act as an excellent reminder for those elsewhere who want to refresh their approach.
A future for Ireland’s towns?
Work on the health checks has already begun in Ireland and the results of some of the pilot initiatives were described by Tara Buckley, Director General of the Retail, Grocery, Dairy and Allied Trades Association, who was part of the Retail Consultation Forum.
The work the Institute has been doing with data from Springboard and working with other partners to understand town centres and develop new approaches to ensure their vitality and viability was a natural fit into this conference. I was able to talk about how we identified the 25 most important factors for town centre vitality (http://placemanagement.org/media/50610/Executive-Summary.pdf), to explain how retail hierarchies are now redundant and we now need to think about towns in terms of usage (http://placemanagement.org/footfall-signatures/) as this will determine the most appropriate actions to be taken in an individual centre. I also talked about approaches to town centre management in terms of Repositioning, Reinventing, Rebranding and Restructuring which we will be releasing articles on in the next month.
The conference heard from a number of Institute members and past students, including Mo Aswat from Mosaic about the international experience of BIDs, Gail McGibbon about the experience of the BID in Sligo, Julienne Elliott about the development of the Coleraine BID, and Richard Hamilton of Future Analytics on the town planning perspective of a healthy town. Other locations featured included Waterford, Ennis and Enniskillen.
Paul Spencer is Projects and Operations Officer for Winchester Business Improvement District (BID) which is operated by Winchester City Centre Partnership. Prior to this he worked for 10 years in an economic development role with a particular focus on cultural and creative industries. He is in the final stages of his PhD in creative cities at the University of Winchester and he has given talks and guest lectures at universities and a range of different events, including conferences in the UK and overseas. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts and a Fellow of the Institute of Place Management. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Paul Spencer”→
Chris Gregory, a member of the Institute of Place Management, has worked as a Town Centre Management practitioner for over 15 years within a number of diverse locations. As a Town Centre Manager and a Business Improvement District (BID) Director, Chris has developed and led award winning projects including events, marketing campaigns and place management plans and maintains a cutting edge knowledge of the industry. An accredited Business Trainer, Chris has strong links with the Association of Town & City Management, having been a member for over 15 years and having served as both Regional Chair and Secretary of the Association.
“Our biggest challenge is arguably the lack of knowledge & understanding about our profession”
Chris Gregory, you are currently director of Heartflood Town Centre Management Ltd. What exactly does the company do?
Richard Guiney, Fellow of the IPM, is CEO of Dublin Town, Dublin city’s Business Improvement District, the home of 2,500 businesses. This organization aims to make Dublin City a more attractive location for shopping, socializing and also for doing business. It operates a series of marketing programmes and events while also addressing barriers that restrict the city’s appeal. Richard has spoken on issues of place management in Europe, Asia and Australia. He is the Association of Town & City Management’s regional chair for Ireland and serves on Dublin City’s Transport & Policing Committees. Prior to joining Dublin Town, Richard served as Director of Corporate Services with Chambers Ireland, where he represented the Irish chambers of commerce at international level. He also oversaw the implementation of training programmes aimed at enhancing capacity within the Irish SME sector. Previously, he was Managing Director of Leargas Consulting, an organisation that specialized in feasibility and impact studies. He also worked on projects which promoted public private partnership. An Accountant and Tax Advisor by profession, Richard has a keen interest in the arts and has served on the board of a number of prominent national arts organisations in Ireland. Continue reading “Meet the IPM: Interview with Richard Guiney”→