Beyond COVID?

As we start a new year many will be hoping that the challenges of the last two years will soon be behind us and that we will be able to start getting back to normal again.

But what is ‘normal’  The pace of change to all our lives started to gather momentum before COVID but it has accelerated beyond anyone’s predictions to a point where we can safely say that life will never be the same again, for any of us. Normality is change in itself and that is how we need to think about the future beyond COVID.

Town and city centres, even commercial business areas and industrial estates are seeing property uses change and even shopping centres being demolished to create open green spaces for people to relax. These changes are being driven by us, by the people who use these places. Anyone involved in the management of ‘place’ needs to try and anticipate the change and not wait for more certainty. That will never happen.

The way forward is to look beyond the now as much as you possibly can.  We must not only plan but respond as quickly as possible to the changing needs of our communities so that our town and city centres retain their position as vital hubs, serving the needs of businesses and everyone who lives in and around them.

So who sets the pace? Who anticipates and leads the change? It is an obligation for us all. We all have a role to play in shaping the future of the places where we live, work and play.  The only sure way of adapting and responding to this new normal is to work together, driving each other and thinking of the needs of everyone, not just ourselves.