Nicola Sturgeon, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, has said:
Town centres are vital to the economic and social fabric of Scotland – they are the heart of our communities, offering a base for small businesses to thrive, and providing a focal point for social interaction.
However, many town centres continue to face considerable challenges and current estimates suggest that more than 20,000 commercial properties across Scotland are lying empty and are failing to support the economic and social aspirations of communities.
In response a National Review of Town Centres has been set up by the Scottish Government to help breathe new life into Scotland’s town centres which is led by an External Advisory Group (EAG), chaired by renowned Scottish architect Malcolm Fraser.
The Review panel includes Diarmaid Lawlor, Head of Urbanism at A&DS, as well as experts from organisations including Ernst and Young, the Association of Town Centre Managers, Scottish Retail Consortium, Creative Scotland, Scottish Chambers of Commerce, Stirling University and Federation of Small Businesses.
The review will have five phases:
- Collation of research and thinking. In order to guide the review process, the Scottish Government will pull together recent research and thinking about town centres in Scotland. This should help ensure that the start of the review process is focussed on action as opposed to debate.
- Opening Event – Review Symposium. A two-day review symposium in Kilmarnock on 25 and 26 September 2012 will open the review. Event attendees will comprise of EAG members and town centre experts. The symposium will focus on agreeing the priority areas for action as part of Phases 3 and 4 of the review.
- Ideas Development and EAG member action (October 2012 – February 2013). As part of the Review Symposium, EAG members will be asked to commit to future action to take forward development of the ideas and initial prototypes falling out of Phase 2. Professional bodies and agencies will be encouraged to come forward and work on the published themes with the lead EAG member.
- Demonstration projects (2013). Following the completion of Phase 3, in 2013 local partnerships and communities will be invited forward to either test or challenge the published set of ideas and prototypes through a set of practical local projects.
- Capturing the Learning. It will be important to capture the learning from each phase of the Review and to derive action for policy at both national and local level. A robust plan for doing this is currently being developed.
Further details about the Review can be found on the Scottish Government website.