Plan to re-energise town centres

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Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon today (Thursday) welcomed an independent report which details key recommendations for reenergising town centres in places like Stornoway.

The report by an external advisory group taking forward the National Review of Town Centres includes a number of proposals to help breathe new life into town centres.

These include:

A ‘town centre first’ principle whereby public bodies will consider how they can support town centres before considering development elsewhere

Working with housing providers to bring empty town centre properties back into use as affordable housing

A town centre focus to review current business rates incentivisation schemes

A recommendation that public bodies should consider the impact of proposals to relocate services out of town centres

Broadening the appeal of town centres with a mix of leisure, public facilities and homes

Leading Scottish architect Malcolm Fraser chaired the review, which included an independent panel of advisors from a range of organisations including a community representative, Creative Scotland, the Association of Town Centre Management, Ernst and Young, GVA, Architecture Design Scotland, Stirling University, SLAED and Federation of Small Business.

Welcoming the report, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Infrastructure, Investment and Cities, Nicola Sturgeon said:

“The Scottish Government is determined to ensure that our town centres are vibrant places where local people and visitors alike want to spend their time and money. They should be accessible places which invite business start-ups and inspire innovative ideas from all walks of the community. The work of this independent review will play a crucial role in the regeneration of high streets across Scotland.

“We recognise the national review group’s passion for finding a future for our town centres and welcome their succinct and insightful review which outlines practical ideas for reenergising these areas.

“Town centres are the lifeblood of our communities, functioning as places of social interaction and enterprise. By diversifying our high streets we will make them even better places to live, work and socialise.

“I look forward to the next phase of the work getting underway, with the first step being a government action plan in the autumn which will take forward the Expert Groups recommendation.”

Chairman of the National Review of Town Centres Malcolm Fraser said:

“Our Review offers the Scottish Government, and the people of Scotland, a range of measures to bring investment and footfall into the heart of our communities.

“Town centres offer a rich mix of live, work and play and we want to enhance that bustle and diversity: more people living there, encouragement for communities, businesses and local authorities and supportive planning and digital initiatives. There’s wide agreement on the need for action and optimism that the changes proposed can help foster a renewed sense of community and enterprise.”