Town centres, the future? Does this reflect Frome?
By LoveFrome | Tuesday, January 08, 2013, 14:16
A new report has been published on the Action for Market Towns website, reviewing the situation for towns one year on from the Portas report. They outline some of the challenges;
Market Place, Frome
Three big challenges town centres face
1 Austerity. Not just now, but for years to come..... People will have less money to spend. This fundamentally challenges consumer culture.
2 Ownership. Town centres no longer belong to their communities. Community venues and public services provided by voluntary organisations and local councils are closing because of funding cuts. Each closure removes a link between the place and the people.
3 Value. The dominant big brand retail-led town centre model extracts value from places rather than adding value to them. Success is judged by how much people spend, not by what they can create.
Three big opportunities for town centres
1 A broken property system. Towns blighted with an acne of empty shops. .. creates an opportunity to repurpose unused buildings, both temporarily and permanently.
2 A broken retail system. Towns [are] at the mercy of decisions taken elsewhere. Those decisions increasingly involve reducing the number of outlets and focusing on larger, 'prime' centres. But this creates an opportunity to rebalance our town centres in favour of independent, locally based traders.
3 A broken economic system. It is clear we are not going to shop our way to prosperity. Town centres need to become places of production, not just consumption. There is an opportunity to rediscover how the civic, commercial and social can be brought together in town centres for mutual benefit.
You can read the full report here
Julian Dobson concludes "The best financial stimulus any town centre can have is for ordinary
people to have more money in their pockets. So any future for our town
centres must be linked with ways of creating new and sustainable
economic activities accessible to people on low incomes."
What do you see as the main challenges for Frome town centre in coming years?