Town Centre Living: A Caring Place Report

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Scotland is changing and with these changes come both opportunities and challenges.  We are living longer and although this is undoubtedly positive, it also challenges us to think about how we ensure that we live not only longer, but that we live well.   

Our demographic future is very much now as we need places where we can care and be cared for in supportive and adapted environments that have people and their well-being at their heart. With social isolation and loneliness being identified as major public health issues, especially for older people, we need to seriously reflect on how we can adapt and improve our town centres to help combat those challenges.

This report sets out the work that we have been coordinating, together with Scotland’s Towns Partnership, to respond and support the Scottish Government’s work around Town Centre Living.  

How could we use town centres more effectively?

The project came about from a simple question which asked    how we could use our town centres more effectively? 

From this, we began to explore what might be the essentials for creating caring places – especially with a focus on ageing and the provision of care. This exploration challenges us to re-imagine our town centres as places to live meaningfully and to feel connected. Through rethinking what it means to care for our people, we can also take the opportunity to care for our places. 

This report also captures some of the output from workshops from an event we held in 2018. From this event, we identified 10 Principles of a Caring Place which place user needs at the heart of decision-making, service provision and investment in our places. 

These principles include:

  • friendly and accessible transport;
  • accessible quality environments;
  • digital and physical connectivity;
  • housing choice;
  • design for re-purposing and integrating technology;
  • relationships, support and mentoring;
  • accessible and diverse amenities and services;
  • empowered carers and care models;
  • preventative and holistic healthcare options; and options for meaningful work and activities.

Our ambition is to bridge the social, environmental and technological needs of our changing communities, and the untapped opportunities offered by the places we already live in.

Exploring Place Through Personas

Throughout this report, we follow the lives of four personas – Richard, Elizabeth, Angie and Helen. Creating these personas has helped us focus our thinking on how the places meet the needs of a specific group of people at four different scales: Housing infrastructure, Community Infrastructure, Green Infrastructure and Transport & Digital Infrastructure. We explore how town centres can be adapted to support us as we get older and what a caring place could look like. 

Architecture and Design Scotland suggests opportunities to re-think streets, spaces and buildings to support new models of care which make best use of public and civic resources and connects people. The focus is on the quality of experience of the built environment to support the needs of different people and support a prevention and early intervention approach to wellbeing. This reflects the Scottish Government’s Place Principle where we take a place-based approach to spatial and community planning to create the conditions for joined-up and thriving communities. 

We want this to be the start of a conversation, and we welcome your contributions and your examples of existing good practice. We hope you find this report helpful and that you join us in the continuing discussion about creating Caring Places. 

Download A Caring Place Report

(Illustration by Richard Carman)

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