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September 26, 2012

New Life for Town Centre Scotland

Town centres are no longer the places they once were. Whereas town centres used to lie at the heart of community life, where people lived, worked and played, far too many have become little more than a bleak retail offering and a place to be avoided after dark.  Is it too late to roll the clock back or can we conjure up a new vision of a town centre for the 21st century?  Scottish Government’s National Review of Town Centres begins work today.


Scotland’s town centres are changing.  We need to ensure they are equipped well in the future to support the economic and social aspirations of communities.  This involves addressing the problems that some town centres face, alongside encouraging individuality and diversity – embracing the opportunities that can exist. 

In order to shape and drive this Review forward, an External Advisory Group (EAG) has been formed to move the debate on to the next level and to spearhead action on the future for Scotland’s town centres.  The EAG pulls together a range of people from diverse backgrounds with differing views on what town centres should look like and what solutions need to be put in place to manage change.  Malcolm Fraser, of Malcolm Fraser Architects is the Chair of the EAG.

Full list of EAG members

The review will have five phases:

Collation of research and thinking. In order to guide the review process, the Scottish Government will pull together recent research and thinking about town centres in Scotland.  This should help ensure that the start of the review process is focussed on action as opposed to debate.

Opening Event – Review Symposium. A two-day review symposium in Kilmarnock on 25 and 26 September 2012 will open the review.  Event attendees will comprise of EAG members and town centre experts.  The symposium will focus on agreeing the priority areas for action as part of Phases 3 and 4 of the review.  

Ideas Development and EAG member action (October 2012 – February 2013). As part of the Review Symposium, EAG members will be asked to commit to future action to take forward development of the ideas and initial prototypes falling out of Phase 2.  Professional bodies and agencies will be encouraged to come forward and work on the published themes with the lead EAG member.

Demonstration projects (2013). Following the completion of Phase 3, in 2013 local partnerships and communities will be invited forward to either test or challenge the published set of ideas and prototypes through a set of practical local projects.

Capturing the Learning. It will be important to capture the learning from each phase of the Review and to derive action for policy at both national and local level.  A robust plan for doing this is currently being developed.