The Association of Town and City Management (ATCM), Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) and the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) have engaged in a unique collaboration initiated by The Institute of Economic Development (IED), which has resulted in a new report launched this May titled ‘A brighter future for our towns and cities’.
The report provides 16 recommendations: concise, practical steps that local authorities, Local Enterprise Partnerships and government can take to boost performance, covering place-making, skills retention, partnership-building, devolution and strategic infrastructure investment. The 16 recommendations include :
· Strategic development plans for underperforming places
· Overhauling Business Rates
· Further empowering and resourcing Local Enterprise Partnerships so they can manage positive change
This collaboration signals the first time that leading professional bodies working in economic development and regeneration have offered collective views from across all the regions and nations of the UK, from the organisations and practitioners who work in and care about our underperforming towns and cities.
The report’s author is Keith Burge, IED Chair (2010 – 2014): “Even in an era of austerity there are things that government and other bodies could and should do to help narrow the gap between underperforming places and our more successful towns and cities. We do not have to make a choice between people and place, only between action and inertia. We vote for action.”
Shanaaz Carroll, Interim ATCM CEO, said: “In 2013, an article in The Economist suggested that Britain’s consistently underperforming towns and cities did not merit any further interventions, with residents relocated to more successful areas. We fundamentally disagree with this approach and realised the strong need to combine our organisations and their huge wealth of knowledge to deliver a report that is easy to understand and will provide the basis for towns and cities to ensure they are achieving their full economic and social potential.”
Trudi Elliott, RTPI Chief Executive, said: “It is essential that we do not abandon our underperforming towns and cities, and in collaboration with other professional bodies, we have outlined practical measures for boosting local economies. We call on the new government to encourage positive regeneration outcomes through investment in local planning, the incentivisation of cooperation between local authorities, and better coordination of policies for housing, infrastructure and service delivery.”
Jeremy Blackburn, Head of Policy and Parliamentary Affairs at RICS said: “The election of a new government is a good time to reassess what has been done to drive regional growth, empower our cities and regenerate the high street. This Parliament will see further devolution of powers and funding, but leadership at both national and local levels will be key. The focus on City Deals at one end and high streets on the other has missed key settlements out so far – and yet these towns are where many of us live, work, and feel passionate about. This report sets out our combined thinking how to turn these towns around, so that the next few years are not just the strong doing what they can and the weak suffering what they must.”