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 […]

Critical creativity and the future of mainstreets

Seeing a new city is always a good way of reflecting on your home town. You look at what’s done differently and wonder why nobody thought of that back home; your eyes are more open to the way people use space and interact with each other. Meeting new people has the same effect. You look […]

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 […]

Why local works: the story of Giroscope

On the front page of Giroscope’s website is a three point pledge to its tenants. It sounds like the sort of thing some big, commercially minded landlords would do, but the content of this small Hull charity’s promise is rather different: • So long as the conditions of the tenancy are met, you have the right […]

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 […]

At the forefront of a new debate

Our involvement in events over the recent months has demonstrated a growing interest in ideas of people-centred placemaking, and especially in the future of high streets and town centres. Julian Dobson has been a keynote speaker at a range of events, including the State of the City debate in Belfast in October 2012, and the […]

Stimulating debate, challenging assumptions: our work in 2012

If the state of the economy and society during 2012 has taught us anything, it is that new thinking is needed to bring us through times that are already a lot harder than anyone imagined at the onset of the financial crisis five years ago. Yet much of that thinking remains on the margins of […]

Can a revived New Towns movement solve the housing crisis?

A new age of new towns and garden cities could be the solution to the affordable housing crisis in the UK, according to deputy prime minister Nick Clegg, writes Alex Douet. In a speech to the National House Building Council recently in which he announced a government investment of £225 million in new homes, Mr […]

The Portas Review, one year on

To mark the first anniversary of the publication of the Portas Review, AMT and Urban Pollinators have brought together a range of collaborators to reflect on town centre progress and problems. High streets and town centres remain firmly on the UK, Scottish and Welsh Governments’ agendas. It’s encouraging that so much local action is taking place and […]

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