MacKay Hannah

City Centres, Town Centres and High Streets after Covid: Rediscovering localism, redefining purpose

Thu 15th Apr 2021

OVERVIEW View Webinar Agenda

This webinar will explore the effects and consequences of the COVID pandemic for how we live and work in our city and town centres and our high streets. It will examine the opportunities for transformational change in the centre of our urban spaces and will consider current thinking and initiatives to turn threat into opportunity as dramatic structural changes are already unfolding.

Localism and the regeneration of our high streets and town and city centres was already a challenging and necessary task before the advent of pandemic. The impact upon retail, transport, employment, public health and the scale and role of the office has enormously accelerated the ways in which our central spaces are undergoing change and need to be reconceived. Can the brutality of the current experience be turned to advantage?

What opportunities and necessities may allow us to rebrand these shared central locations? How do we re-imagine and re-engineer their vitality so that we have multifunctional use which is sustainable, desirable and economically successful? What are the implications of considering footfall rather than retail occupancy as a measure of dynamism? What pooling of resources and purpose is required from all stakeholders if we are to move from marginal survival to thriving placemaking?

Dr Chloe Steadman will reflect on what high streets and town centres have been and what they might become. Stefano Smith will discuss the role of planning in our city and town centres and high streets. Phil Prentice will reflect on how town centres should be treated holistically in pursuing place-based approaches to renewal. 

Key points: 

  • What have high streets and town centres been and what might they become?
  • The role of planning in supporting place
  • Treating town centres with holistic, place based approaches to renewal
  • The future balance between smart location, retail destination and residential space
  • The collaboration of policy, people and place required for sustainable change
  • What should the future of town centres look like and how do we get there?


Donald Anderson

Director, Playfair Scotland

Dr Chloe Steadman

Lecturer in Marketing, Manchester Metropolitan University; Research Associate, Institute of Place Management

Stefano Smith FRTPI

Director, Stefano Smith Planning and High Streets Task Force Expert

Phil Prentice

Chief Officer, Scotland's Towns Partnership

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This was a very interesting conference with much relevant content. The first speaker setting the economic context was the best economics presentation I have heard.

Delegate from Scottish Government,
Attending Core Challenges for the Future of Scottish Local Government