In June 2020, the Cabinet Secretary for Communities and Local Government announced a review of the Town Centre Action Plan which was launched in 2013. The review will be undertaken by an expert review group chaired by Professor Leigh Sparks Chair of Scotland’s Towns Partnership and Deputy Principal and Professor of Retail Studies at the University Stirling.
Other members of the group include representatives from COSLA, the Royal Town Planning Institute, South of Scotland Enterprise, the Carnegie Trust, the Federation of Small Businesses, Public Health Scotland, Sustrans, Inclusion Scotland, the Development Trusts Association Scotland and the Scottish Government. The Review has undertaken a range of consultation exercises over the Summer and early autumn of 2020 with the general public and other stakeholders and will report later in the year. You can read more about the Scottish Government’s initial announcement here.
The Town Centre Action Plan, published in 2013, can be accessed through the Scottish Government’s town centre regeneration page, where you will also find links to the 2013 National Review of Town Centres, as well as one year and two year progress reports on the Town Centre Action Plan.
Regular updates about the review and further opportunities to get involved and share your views will be posted on this page.
Public survey: analysis of results
The Expert Review Group issued a national survey to gather the views of local communities on the future of their towns. This news release announced the launch of the survey, it was open for responses until the end of September. Over 1500 people contributed from all over Scotland, and the results of that survey are now being considered by the Review Group.
On the closure of the survey, the Review Group chair, Professor Leigh Sparks said: “We are hugely grateful for the time taken by so many people from all across Scotland in sharing their views about their local town centres and High Streets. The results make clear how highly valued these town centres are, and comments submitted set out clearly some of the challenges we have to overcome.
“We will carefully examine the responses submitted and they will inform the composition of our final report and recommendations.”
Written evidence submissions
As part of its deliberations, The Expert Review Group invited individuals, organisations and stakeholders to contribute through its formal Call for Evidence. Organisations representing or focusing on the views of seldom heard voices were strongly encouraged to take part, in addition to participation in the public survey (above). the Review Group set out to collect written and oral evidence in the following thematic sections:
- Retail and Commercial
- Climate and Sustainability
- Planning, Access & Place Management
- Culture and Creative
- Housing and Property
- Local Government and Economic Agencies
- Communities, Wellbeing and Inclusion
The series of invitation-only themed oral evidence sessions took place using online sessions during the week commencing 17th August.
Next steps for the Review Group
Initial high level findings and ideas to drive the vision for Scotland’s town centres will be developed over the course of the autumn. These will then be refined and further evidence and work conducted up until the end of November 2020, when the report will be finalised. The report is due for publication by the end of 2020.
Guidance for submissions
Whilst the formal window for written evidence has now closed, the Review Group is always open to further contributions, which should be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org