Manchester is one of five European regions set to benefit from a new European fund designed to help regional and local governments to develop and deliver better town centre policy.
The Institute of Place Management (IPM) at Manchester Metropolitan University will utilise part of a £1.5 million grant from the European funding body Interreg, to investigate how companies, councils and other local groups can work together more effectively to improve their town centres. One of the major outcomes of the work will be a nationwide audit of Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and their achievements.
I recently had the opportunity to visit the town of Emsdetten(Westphalia, Germany), invited by the mayor’s office, in order to discuss the possibilities of a new Town Centre Management scheme. Emsdetten is a small town of 35,000 inhabitants in Westphalia, close to the city of Münster. Its centre, defined by a ring road and comprising approximately one tenth of the whole area, mainly consists of semi-pedestrianized streets and a locally important retail sector. What is however striking, is that in this rather wealthy town, where unemployment is low (under 4%) and medium income high, there are more and more empty shops. What exactly is happening here? And, furthermore, what can a future Town Centre Management do?
The IPM has been collecting and analysing similar information from UK cities for a long time , looking both at the factors that contribute to a place’s vitality and to broader trends in retail (e.g. the HSUK2020 and BDSU projects) . Whereas the UK experience cannot be directly transferred to Germany, there are however several phenomena that we observe – e.g. growth of online retail, changes in customer expectations, lifestyle differentiation, income disparities – across borders in many European locations. Continue reading “Town Centre Management in Emsdetten, Germany”→
Roeselare in West Flanders, Belgium, is a small city that is beginning to change rapidly. With a population of some 60,000, a catchment of around 200,000, and a reputation as a retail destination, Roeselare is typical of many locations across Europe that are having to address disruptive change in retail. In 2007, they adopted a plan that sought to achieve a balance between town centre and edge of centre retailing. A centre management team was set up in 2009 but it wasn’t until 2015 that the real challenges of retail change were addressed. Although retail vacancy remained moderate, at some 8.4% of the 400 units in the centre, there was a realisation that more radical things had to be done to maintain a sustainable retail offer. Continue reading “Town Centre Management in Roeselare West Flanders, Belgium”→