Collaborative leadership – making a place work for the future

The days of creating a healthy town or city centre by undertaking a retail study for a town and using the results to plan for new retail lead regeneration have gone. Retail lead solutions are no longer the solution! The creation of the ‘clone town’ and competing for the same audience through overlapping catchment areas of neighbouring towns will not provide a sustainable future for economic development of town and city centres. Neither will simply increasing the amount of residential in town and city centres increase footfall.

Billy Grimsey made four key recommendations in his last review. He identified the need for collaboration and outstanding and committed leadership. Local Authorities do not have the resources to sustain a parental relationship with other stakeholders and provide everything. There is clearly a role for all to play in shaping the future of our towns and city centres and success can only be achieved through open, honest and transparent relationships between everyone involved.

Perhaps most importantly Grimsey said that towns should be complete community hubs reflecting the requirements of the local residents and that local heritage should feature strongly in the development of the place, provided that it is made relevant for today. This will help create differentiation between places rather than trying to compete, which means that they will develop stronger town centre economies which will ultimately create stronger regional economies. It is everyone’s responsibility to drive the initiatives needed to change the way in which the town or city centre works today and for the future. No-one should be sitting back and waiting for it to just happen!