I’m always asked how do you identify the types of projects to deliver in a town centre and the answer always comes back to the community and this consists of businesses and visitors to your town centre. Who is your audience? Its really taking the concept of a business target audience and thinking about the products and services they require. What type of town centre? Are you a convenience town? Do you attract tourists? Do you already have an up to date strategy/vision for your town centre? All of these questions are important and will form the platform for your project delivery and how you’re going to transform the town centre.
The advantages of this knowledge and data is that you don’t waste time on projects or events that will be short term and have no real impact on the peoples lives. There are a number of questions that will help you to identify what could build legacy and build confidence, transforming the perception of a town centre.
- Consider the need to breath life into current public spaces, that previously remain unused and lifeless.
- Community engagement is key and I can’t underestimate here how important this is to empower communities to support change. This can be evident through the use of social media platforms too – a subject close to my heart and one I will write about in future blogs.
- Generate interest from current major stakeholders both public and private sector.
- Identify or re-establish a sense of community both business and potential visitors.
- Encourage buy – in regarding a potential project idea. What are the benefits to the end user. Is this project measurable?
- Bring together stakeholders once bought in to the idea of the project in question.
- Be passionate and speak with conviction about your project to encourage a sense of pride and indeed ownership of their town centre. Sometimes it takes the project to be underway before you can gain the momentum and support for change and this can be very challenging, but persevere as the results will speak volumes thus reaching your goal.
I’m keen to add that these lower budget projects might not be the only solution but will encourage buy in and confidence in the larger structural town centre projects that might not always have the support in the early stages. You will also learn a great deal about your community and what their needs are and the type of amenities they would support, this in turn will bring the community together and ensure you have future project ideas for your town centre which will be fully embraced by the community.