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15/04/15 10:30

Making the most of town centres

Alex Neil launches new online resource.

A new online toolkit will give communities information and advice on how they can make their town centres more attractive, active and accessible.

The Town Centre Toolkit has been developed as one of the key actions from the Town Centre Action Plan, a plan which sets out measures to revitalise Scotland’s town centres.

Using case studies for inspiration, the toolkit is designed to give everyone the opportunity to be involved in making improvements to their local area and offers guidance on how to make best use of the assets already in place.

Examples include bringing historic buildings back into use, like Kilmarnock Opera House, now used to house council offices and services, the provision of flexible working and meeting spaces for entrepreneurs, such as the Hub in Falkirk and ideas for making town centres friendlier, more social places by organising night time events, establishing monthly local markets or closing off streets temporarily for street parties.

Other ideas to make town centres more accessible could be organising shopmobility schemes, like East Kilbride Shopmobility which offers wheelchairs and mobility scooters to service users and provides signposts to other facilities available to them, creating more outside seating areas, and planting flowers and trees to improve an area’s appeal.

Cabinet Secretary for Social Justice, Communities and Pensioners’ Rights Alex Neil said:

“Our town centres should be attractive focal points for the community. They have to be places where people feel safe and enjoy spending their or else they will choose to go elsewhere.

“The Scottish Government, together with COSLA and local authorities, now actively promotes the application of the Town Centre First Principle. We recognise that making improvements to town centres can sometimes be difficult for local authorities to balance alongside the other pressures they face.

“That’s why the toolkit is also targeted at the people who work and live there, as they are often the ones best placed to understand, identify and promote the opportunities that lie within their town centre.

“This new resource will encourage and inspire communities to think creatively and see how they can make best use of their buildings, streets, greenspace and businesses. Alongside larger infrastructure investment plans, small changes like moving seating to sunnier spots, promoting the town centre’s history or attracting bands and emerging musicians to play in town centre venues over a number of days can all help to inject life back into our towns.”

The toolkit will be hosted on a website being re-launched today by Scotland’s Towns Partnership (STP). STP will use it to highlight initiatives which may already be underway in towns across the country and help to encourage new activity.

Professor Leigh Sparks, Chair of STP said:

"This open access toolkit is both informative and inspirational. It will provoke ideas and creativity which should ultimately lead to a higher quality of design and sustainable placemaking.

“Building the document under clear themes and illustrating it with great examples clearly shows what can be achieved through better planning and design.

“Scotland's Towns Partnership will actively promote the tool to all of our members and partners, we see this Town Centre Toolkit as being a critical component towards delivering a stronger network of towns across Scotland.”

Notes to editors

The toolkit is divided into three themes attractive, active and accessible, it is available to view at: http://www.scotlandstowns.org/

More information about the Town Centre First Principle and the Scottish Government’s Town Centre Action Plan is available at: http://www.gov.scot/Topics/Built-Environment/regeneration/town-centres