Book review: The Metropolitan Revolution

Will a ‘metropolitan revolution’ bring new life to the US and Britain? There are plenty of city leaders who’d like to think so. In this review for the journal People, Place and Policy we take a look at the popular recipe retailed by the Brookings Institution in Washington, and raise a few questions. You can read the full […]

Why we need urban development heretics

When shopping centre developer Hammerson walked away from Sheffield’s much-vaunted New Retail Quarter last year, it could have been a blessing in disguise. Here was an opportunity to radically rethink the ‘mall without walls’ template for city centre regeneration. Sheffield City Council’s chief executive, John Mothersole, has been quoted as saying that the next iteration of the […]

Can Belfast become a city fit for the future?

A few minutes after you leave Belfast City Airport to head into the city centre, a row of fluttering purple flags greets you. They signal that the estate behind the fence is the territory of the Ulster Volunteer Force. Seven months ago they weren’t there. It’s a visible sign of the fragility of Belfast’s recovery […]

The legacy of Alderman Graves, and lessons for regeneration

A couple of weeks ago I was asked to give a lecture at Sheffield University’s Interdisciplinary Centre of the Social Sciences. The talk focused on people-centred approaches to regeneration, and how they could be encouraged in today’s policy context. The full text of the talk and the accompanying slides are here. I also wrote a […]

How to create community assets

  Since 1992, several hundred homes in a corner of west London have been the standard-bearers of a new form of community control. Previously owned by Westminster Council, they were transferred to a resident-controlled housing association, Walterton and Elgin Community Homes, under the 1988 ‘tenants’ choice’ legislation. Walterton and Elgin Community Homes (WECH) arose from […]

HMV’s travails show the need for citizens to reclaim town and city space

My thoughts on the demise of high street photographic chain Jessops and the likely closure of HMV have been featured in the Guardian’s Northerner blog. The problem is not simply that a particular business model has become obsolete, I argued. ‘What’s broken is our own ability as citizens to share in the ownership, management and […]

From ‘me’ towns to ‘we’ towns: a vision for the future

One year ago, the Portas Review of the high street echoed our vision that the high streets of the future should be ‘multifunctional social centres, not simply competitors for stretched consumers’. The response to the review I coordinated last year was collaborative, and those of us who compiled it believe a positive future for our […]

Can social landlords be agents of local economic change?

A few years ago the Joseph Rowntree Foundation produced a report entitled Person or place-based policies to tackle disadvantage? Not knowing what works. The title was a fitting, if depressing, summary of more than two decades of research and practice. The current government has decided that the answer to this conundrum is to stop looking […]

Beyond the butcher and the baker: local government gets re-imagining

If you thought we were all deserting local shops, think again. Apparently nearly four-fifths of us believe our high streets depend on local butchers and bakers, according to the Local Government Association. A new poll shows just how deep this care for local retailers lies, especially among older people: Nearly eight in 10 local people […]

An Association of Agitators: the next step for our high streets?

Imagining Alternative High Street Futures from Architecture + Design Scotland on Vimeo. Where can you find an Association of Town Agitators, a ‘framework for mess’ and a high street Truth and Reconciliation Commission? Answer: Glasgow, where around 40 people gathered to ‘imagine alternative high street futures’ on Tuesday. We blogged some thoughts here earlier this […]